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Cargo ship with 17 Russians on board reported missing in Pacific

19:10 24/01/2008
VLADIVOSTOK, January 24 (RIA Novosti) - A rescue center in Russia's Far East said on Thursday a cargo vessel with 17 Russian crew on board was missing in the East China Sea.

The Cambodia-registered ship transporting over 4,500 metric tons of rolled metal to Hong Kong last had radio contact on Sunday, the center said. The vessel left Russia's Far East port of Nakhodka on January 15 and failed to arrive in China's special administrative region on January 24 as planned.

Rescue officials said they had informed colleagues in Japan, China and South Korea, which are connected to the sea by straits, of the Kapitan Uskov's disappearance.

"All vessels currently in the East China Sea have also been informed of the disappearance of the Cambodian-registered ship with a Russia crew on board," the center said.

Japan said it would send searchers to an area 221 miles (355 km) west of Shanghai, from where the ship last contacted the ground services, the Far East center said.

The center said there is not yet sufficient information to explain the ship's disappearance.

The boat, with cargo capacity of 5,200 metric tons, was built in Japan in 1982. It flew a Soviet flag and was later sold to a private shipping company and registered in Cambodia.

Ships are often registered in a foreign country to cut operating costs, avoid government regulations or simply to take advantage of a country's infrastructure or diplomatic support.

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