SEOUL - Republic of Korea(ROK) returned three sailors of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) rescued two days ago in its waters along with two bodies, Seoul's Unification Ministry said Sunday.
The Mongolia-flagged cargo ship Grand Fortune 1 sank in open waters off ROK's southern coastal city of Yeosu at dawn on Friday, with three crew members rescued, two bodies found and 11 others remained missing.
The Unification Ministry said in a statement that the South side handed over the three rescued DPRK sailors and the two bodies to the North at 2:05 pm Sunday local time through the border village of Panmunjeom.
The move came after Pyongyang asked for the repatriation of the rescued sailors and the bodies of the dead via Panmunjeom.
Pyongyang on Saturday urged the parties concerned to rescue its sunken cargo ship and help survivors return home at an early date "from the humanitarian point of view," the DPRK's official KCNA news agency reported.
ROK dispatched boats and aircraft to the scene for the third straight day Sunday to search the missing crew, but bad weather has hampered search and rescue operations.
The 4,300-ton cargo ship, which ran aground at around 1:19 am on Friday, was heading to China from the DPRK city of Chongjin, carrying heavy oil and steel products.