Updated: 03/19/2014 00:22 | By Agence France-Presse

One dead, eight missing after ships collide off Japan

One Chinese crew member was killed and eight others were missing after two cargo ships collided at the mouth of Tokyo Bay early Tuesday, Japan's coastguard said.

One dead, eight missing after ships collide off Japan

A Japan Coast Guard boat near the international cargo terminal in Tokyo on May 22, 2013 - by Yoshikazu Tsuno

The Panamanian-flagged Beagle III, a 12,630-ton vessel carrying steel coil, sank after colliding with the South Korean-registered Pegasus Prime in the Uraga waterway. 

Twelve of the 20 Chinese crew aboard Beagle III were rescued but one of them was later confirmed to be dead, a coastguard official said.

"We are continuing to search for the eight others still missing" he added. 

The Japanese coastguard had sent two helicopters and one plane as well as 17 patrol ships to the site.

The crew of the 7,406-ton Pegasus Prime -- six South Koreans and eight people from Myanmar -- were mostly unhurt, but two Koreans sustained minor injuries when they tried to lower a lifeboat, the Japanese official said.

The sea was not believed to be rough at the time of the collision, according to the coastguard.

Tokyo Bay is Japan's busiest waterway with some 500 ships passing through daily.

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