MOSCOW, (AFP) – Russian border guards repeatedly fired on a cargo ship that hit trouble off its Far Eastern coast at the weekend with the loss off several crew members, prosecutors were quoted as saying Thursday.
Officials said the ship, the Sierra Leone-flagged New Star with 10 Chinese crew and six Indonesians on board, was in Russian waters illegally and repeatedly ignored warnings to stop.
"The investigation into the shooting on the foreign ship is being led by military prosecutors," Alexander Selentsov, an official from prosecutors in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, told the Interfax news agency.
"The captain of the New Star was repeatedly asked to stop through radio communication, flares, a flag and warning shots. But the foreign ship did not stop," he added.
He said border guards then received an order from the Federal Security Service (FSB) "to open fire on the ship".
"The order was carried out after warnings on the radio. Only then did the New Star stop," he added.
The Kommersant newspaper reported that 500 rounds were fired at the bow and stern of the vessel. It said the survivors claim the firing caused the ship's problems rather than bad weather.
Eight crew were killed in the incident while the other eight were rescued by Russian forces and taken to hospitals for treatment, Russian news agencies said.
China has called on Russia to investigate the shipping incident amid the investigation into reports that Russia's naval forces had fired on the vessel.
"The Chinese consulate in Russia has already raised representations with the Russian Embassy in China... and called on the Russian side... to quickly begin an investigation into the causes of the incident," a foreign ministry statement said.