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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Six Killed As Russian Ship Sinks Off China

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HONG KONG — A Russian cargo ship flipped over off the coast of China under unclear circumstances, killing at least six people.

Eleven survivors were fished out of 6-meter waves and two were still missing after the Cambodian-registered Pamela Dream, which was carrying lumber, went down Thursday about 40 kilometers east of Wuchiu Island.

The island is held by Taiwan although it is just a few kilometers from the coast of Fujian province in China.

The first of the survivors — chief officer Boris Tersintsev, 36, and crew member Yevgeny Kachayev, 23 — were brought to Hong Kong by the Aurora cruiseliner on Friday.

Appearing weak and dazed, Tersintsev said he spent four hours floating in the sea, unable to do anything but "hope, hope and hope for a rescue" before he was saved.

Speaking to reporters in Hong Kong, Tersintsev said the ship took about 40 minutes to sink. He described the last minutes of the ill-fated voyage as a blur.

"In my eyes I see only one picture — the vessel goes under water and the vessel, very fast, lays on its stomach side," he said.

No official cause for the shipwreck was given, but Hong Kong rescue officials said they believed the lumber on board might have gotten soaked with seawater and made the ship top heavy enough to capsize in the rough waters it encountered.

Steve Burgoine, captain of the Aurora, said his crew joined the search with a motorized lifeboat after receiving a rescue call Thursday morning.

A passing cargo ship saw the Pamela Dream in trouble and mistakenly sent a telex to the faraway Japanese coast guard, who forwarded it to Hong Kong officials. Chinese and Taiwanese rescue vessels and four commercial ships responded to the call.

"We had a heavy swell and quite a strong wind," Burgoine said. "There was no sign of the ship that had already sank, and debris everywhere."

He said an upturned lifeboat, logs from the cargo and several life rings and life jackets were floating on the water.

Alan Hawkins, one of the rescuers, said a third sailor found by the cruiseliner's crew was dead. The two survivors were "very cold but relieved to see us," he said.

Elsa Beer, 79, a British tourist, said passengers aboard the Aurora were asked to help look for the sailors from the ship's decks.

Another Hong Kong-bound cruise ship, Prosperity No. 8, saved one sailor while an oil tanker called the Wooduck rescued seven and the Japanese vessel Haruka-C saved one, Hong Kong officials said.

Taiwanese and Chinese coastal authorities were continuing to search the area for the two missing sailors over the weekend.