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China slams Russian attitude to sunken ship: report
BEIJING, Feb 20 (AFP) Feb 20, 2009
China's foreign ministry said Friday Russia's attitude to the sinking of a Chinese cargo ship by a Russian warship was "unacceptable", according to Chinese state media.

Eight of the 16 crew members on board were killed when shots from a Russian naval vessel sank the Chinese-owned cargo ship the New Star off Russia's east coast on Sunday.

Russia has blamed the cargo ship's captain for the incident.

The attitude of the Russian foreign ministry is "hard to understand and unacceptable" for China, said Zhang Xiyun, director-general for the Department of European-Central Asian Affairs, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Earlier, China urged Russia to investigate the incident.

"The Chinese side expresses shock and deep concern over this incident," China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Hui told Russia's ambassador to China, according to a foreign ministry statement.

"We call on the Russian side to begin with a humanitarian spirit... and continue to make all efforts to find the missing personnel."

Russian diplomatic spokesman Andrey Nesterenko expressed regret over the incident but said the Chinese ship had failed to heed warning shots.

"We regret the tragic consequences of this incident," he told the Ria-Novosti news agency.

"But at the same time, we put all the responsibility on the captain of the New Star, who acted in a totally irresponsible manner.

"We took exhaustive measures to stop the boat: the border guards fired warning shots, but the New Star continued on its way without reacting to the orders," he added.

Russian prosecutors said 10 Chinese and six Indonesian sailors were on board the vessel, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.

Russian news reports said eight people had been killed in the incident, although these figures have yet to be confirmed by authorities.

The Sierra Leone-flagged, Chinese-owned vessel New Star had earlier fled the Russian port of Nakhodka where it had been impounded for alleged smuggling, media reports said.

In a video posted online that purportedly captured the incident, a man, apparently a Russian naval officer, is heard repeatedly urging the New Star to halt.

The Russian navy fired over 500 rounds to try to force the cargo ship back to port, China's state-controlled Global Times newspaper said.

Russian news agencies said the eight surviving crew members were rescued and taken to hospital.

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