The Taiwanese and South Korean governments announced on Friday that two dead bodies had been recovered after a ship carrying six South Koreans went missing in the Taiwan Strait, and that search and rescue activities are underway.

The Kyoto 1 sent distress signals to Taiwan authorities around 9:50 a.m. (0050 GMT) on Thursday from a point about 18 miles (29 km) west of the island, according to the foreign ministry in Seoul. All six crew on board were South Korean nationals.

The Sierra Leone-flagged 322-ton ship was towing the Kyoto 2 tender vessel, which was discovered in the area, to Indonesia’s Batam port from the South Korean city of Busan.

“Our government has launched an emergency response team and dispatched a patrol ship and helicopters for a search,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was working with Taiwanese patrol authorities.

The ship sent out a distress signal in waters near the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait, according to Taiwan’s National Rescue Command Center, which dispatched ships and aircraft to search for it.

An empty vessel reported to be Kyoto
An empty vessel reported being Kyoto

Fishermen have located two remains whose identities have yet to be confirmed, and efforts to locate the remaining four are ongoing, according to the report.

A helicopter tasked with assisting the Taiwan operation crashed in waters off South Korea’s southernmost Mara island on Friday, killing two crew members and wounding a third, with a fourth crew member still missing, according to the coast guard.

Two coast guard pilots and two other officials were on board the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter when it plunged into the sea about 1:32 a.m., 370 kilometers (225 miles) southwest of the island (1632 GMT Thursday).

According to Park Je-soo, a Jeju coast guard official, the chopper was returning to its base on Jeju island after dropping six members of a special rescue team on a nearby patrol ship sailing for Taiwan.

“The pilot was alive when he was rescued, but his co-pilot and a radar operator were unconscious. Despite our emergency care, they did not regain consciousness,” Park told a televised briefing.

The pilot suffered multiple fractures and was hospitalized for treatment, and a search was ongoing for the missing fourth person, a mechanic, he added.

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