According to the ministry, Hyundai Glovis car transport vessel the Golden Ray listed sharply in waters off the US state of Georgia at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, local time.
The Golden Ray was carrying some 4,000 cars manufactured in the US, and was headed to the Middle East for export. Some of them were Kia Motors cars, but most were from other global carmakers.
While the exact cause of the accident remains unknown, the ministry said it had sent the consul general in Atlanta to the site to cooperate with related authorities, such as the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, as well as Hyundai Glovis and the US Coast Guard.
According to the US Coast Guard, which is conducting the operation at the site, four people are still missing. They are believed to be Korean nationals and may have been trapped in the engine room of the ship.
As of Monday afternoon, 20 of the 24 crew members had been rescued: six Koreans, 13 Filipinos and one US national.
US authorities said they could not rule out the possibility that Hurricane Dorian, which passed through Georgia last week, may have influenced the incident.
Hyundai Glovis said it had immediately sent a team to the scene to investigate the incident and convey the details to the Seoul headquarters.
The company said this is the first such incident involving any of its vessels.
“We have also requested consulate officials for a swift rescue operation by cooperating with USCG,” a Hyundai Glovis official told The Korea Herald, adding that the company was doing its best to cooperate with US officials to rescue the remaining crew members.
The company said it would review the scale of the damage and decide on compensation issues once all crew members were safely rescued.
The logistics unit of Hyundai Motor Group operates some 60 vessels globally for the transportation of cars. The Golden Ray was responsible for Hyundai Glovis’ North American car transporting business.
As part of its expanding business operations in the US, Hyundai Glovis established a subsidiary company in the US in June to grow its truck transportation business.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org)