At least 54 dead after Russian freezer trawler sinks with 132 on board


Russia Trawler Sinkin_Cham640360.jpgAt least 54 people were killed early Thursday when a Russian freezer trawler carrying an international crew of 132 sank in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.

Rescue officials told the Associated Press that 63 crew members of the Dalny Vostok had been saved and the fate of another 15 was unknown. Russia’s emergency services said in a statement on their website that more than 26 fishing boats were in the area of the sinking to rescue crew members and recover bodies. Approximately 1,300 people were believed to be involved in the rescue operation.

 Viktor Klepikov, coordinating captain of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky maritime rescue coordination center, told Reuters that the sea’s temperature at the time of the sinking was near freezing.

 No cause for the sinking was immediately given, but investigators said the ship may have collided with drifting ice. Russia’s TASS news agency reported that the ship’s crew may have been violating safety rules by exceeding its cargo storage capacity. 

The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it is considering all theories but it is likely that the trawler hit “an object” floating in the sea.

 The accident occurred at about 4 a.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday). The trawler sent no distress signals prior to the sinking, Russia’s Interfax news agency said.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry sent an Mi-8 helicopter with rescuers and doctors aboard to deliver medical assistance and transport rescued crew members to hospitals in the city of Magadan, the ministry said on its website. It also set up a telephone hotline for families of the crew.

Of the 132 crew members, 78 are from Russia, 42 from Myanmar and the rest from Latvia, Ukraine and Vanuatu.


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