Two North Korean sailors have been rescued after a fire broke out on their cargo ship 31km southeast of Weihai, China, on Wednesday, according to Chinese press agency Xinhua.
The crew placed a call to the maritime search and rescue center of Weihai City at 7.30AM local time.
The center sent a rescue ship to pick the two injured sailors, who arrived on shore in the early afternoon. Chinese media reports they are both in a stable condition.
The North Korean sailors were aboard a 5600-tonne cargo ship called the Jin Long. The ship is currently holding position near China’s north-eastern coast.
Xinhua also reported the vessel is currently sailing under a Tanzanian flag, a potentially problematic issue if the vessel is owned by North Korea.
Under the most recent UN Resolution passed in March, member states cannot allow DPRK vessels to sail with their flags, in a practice known in the maritime industry as using a flag of convenience.
“Member States (should) de-register any vessel that is owned, operated or crewed by the DPRK, further calls upon Member States not to register any such vessel that is de-registered by another Member State pursuant to this paragraph,” the resolution reads.
The Jin Long is currently registered to companies in Hong Kong, which do not administer or own any other vessels. Within the last two weeks, the cargo ship has also ferried between Dalian, and Nampho, the DPRK’s largest port.
The presence of North Korean crew, visits to North Korea and ownership by Hong Kong companies using systems of “care of” addresses are often indicators of vessels covertly controlled by the DPRK.
If the ship is not owned by a North Korean company, it could still find itself in breach of the March resolution, as the same paragraph of the resolution prevents UN member states from using North Korean crews.
The vessel was only very recently changed to a Tanzanian flag in June this year, after being bought by the Hong Kong-based company Star Moon Shipping. A previous NK Pro investigation found that Tanzania could be the new home of several DPRK vessels that were previously registered to Mongolia.
If accurate, the new registrations could mean the African nation has breached the newest UN resolution multiple times.