Japan searching for North Korean fishing boat reported to have sunk

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese authorities were searching on Wednesday for a North Korean fishing boat that was reported to have sunk in the Sea of Japan.

A North Korean boat telephoned a Japanese fishing office to report that another North Korean vessel had sunk in the northern part of a rich fishing ground known as the Yamato Shallows, a spokesman for the Japanese coastguard said.

The fate of those on board was not known but there had been a report that at least one member of the crew was in the sea.

The coastguard and a patrol boat from Japan's Fisheries Agency have begun a search, the spokesman said, adding that it was not known why the boat had sunk.

The incident took place in the same area in which a Japanese patrol boat and a North Korean fishing boat were involved in a crash this month while the patrol boat was chasing the North Korean boat of Japanese waters.

Japan rescued about 60 North Korean crew members in that incident, after the fishing boat sank.

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher, Elaine Lies and Ritsuko Ando,; Editing by Robert Birsel)