N. Korea Holding Russians for Violation of Sea Borders

North Korean authorities are holding a Russian cargo ship and the 25 people aboard after it violated the isolated country's sea border, a Russian diplomat said.

North Korean coast guards detained the Lidia Demesh on Saturday after it approached the coastline while en route from Japan to Vladivostok with a cargo of automobiles, Interfax reported.

The consul in the North Korean city of Chongjin, Yevgeny Valkovich, said the North Korean authorities told him that he would not be able to meet with the captain and crew until their investigation into the incident was complete but that he hoped the ship, being held at the port in Kimchaek on the Sea of Japan, would be released soon.

"I hope this situation will be resolved soon, because there is no serious reason for the ship's detention," Valkovich told Vesti-24 state television by telephone.

He said the authorities had acknowledged that the ship was forced close to the shore by a storm.

"Our Korean friends have said there was in fact a powerful storm in the area, which was the reason ... for the border violation," Valkovich said.

The head of the Russian shipping company Kamchatmorflot, Konstantin Zhukov, said the ship's food supplies would run out in less than a week and that the company had appealed to Russian and North Korean diplomats to secure its release, Interfax reported.

Valkovich said North Korean authorities would likely provide the crew with food if necessary, RIA-Novosti reported.

In 2005, a Russian cargo ship and its crew of 14 were held for more than two weeks by North Korean authorities after dropping anchor offshore.