Lyu Guijin, Chinese consul general in Fukuoka, said the Chinese authorities were very concerned about the incident.
Hong Kong’s marine department said it was notified on Wednesday that the vessel capsized in bad weather in waters off Jeju Island in South Korea while en route to Incheon.
“The Marine Department is following up with the ship management company concerned about the incident,” a department spokesman said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the department said “search and rescue operations are still ongoing”.
According to information available online, the ship was owned by Shenzhen Shekou Shipping Transportation Company Limited.
A call from the Post to the company on Wednesday, during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday in mainland China, went unanswered.
The 6,551-tonne vessel carrying timber issued a distress call at around 11.15pm local time on Tuesday. It sank about three and a half hours later. Media reported that the 22 crew members – comprising 14 Chinese nationals and eight people from Myanmar – had transferred to lifeboats.
The Japanese Coast Guard confirmed that five rescued crew members who were alive were Chinese nationals.
Six of the crew were rescued by South Korea’s coast guard. A maritime official based on the South Korean island of Jeju told reporters that unconscious crew members who had been rescued were being transported to Nagasaki in Japan.
Coast guard ships, aircraft and two commercial cargo ships continued their search for missing crew members, but strong winds and waves had slowed their efforts, South Korean officials said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the ship to sink, and there were no signs of a collision with another vessel, according to the Japanese coast guard. The wind was strong at the time the distress signal was received.
Japan was hit by winter storms in the western parts of the country on Tuesday, with extremely low temperatures and strong winds in many other areas as well.
Heavy snow fell in some areas and daytime temperatures on some of the islands closest to the rescue site only reached 3 degrees Celsius.