SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- Around 20 North Korean fishermen were rescued on Monday after their boat collided with a Japanese patrol ship and sank in the East Sea, according to Japanese media reports.
The collision took place at around 9 a.m. in waters some 350 kilometers northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, NHK and Kyodo News reported. The fishing boat sank soon after the incident, and around 20 crew members presumed to be onboard were thrown into the waters, according to the reports.
Kyodo reported that over 20 people have been rescued, but it is not clear yet whether all of the crew members were saved as the Japanese government said that it is still working to figure out exactly how many people were aboard the boat.
Japanese authorities have communicated to North Korea an intent to repatriate the crew members, but have not yet received a response.
The accident happened inside Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the reports said. Japan's fisheries ministry said that the accident took place as maritime police were chasing the boat away.
The EEZ is a sea zone over which a country has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. It stretches out to 200 nautical miles from the coastline.