By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - A North Korean fishing boat sank on Monday in the Sea of Japan after hitting a Japanese patrol ship, Japanese media reported.
Twenty people were on-board the North Korean boat when the incident happened, Kyodo news reported adding the crew fell in water prompting brisk rescue operations by the Japanese Coast Guard.
The incident happened in Japan's exclusive economic zone at around 9:10 a.m. local time (0010GMT) around 350 kilometers (217 miles) northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.
“[Japanese] vessel had warned the North Korean boat which appeared to be fishing for squid to leave the area before the collision, as it was deemed to be there illegally,” the report said.
The Japanese Coast Guard said several of the North Korean fishermen were saved while rescue operations are going on. None from the Japanese side was hurt.
A Japanese airplane, helicopter and patrol boats are aiding the rescue mission.
Chinese and North Korean boats are routinely seen in this maritime zone from June through December which is peak season for fishing.