A rescue operation is underway to save the international crew of 132 that were on board the Russian freezer trawler “Dalniy Vostok,” which sank Thursday morning in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula.
At least 54 have been confirmed dead after their bodies were pulled out of the water, while 63 have survived the catastrophe and 15 are still considered to be missing.
Many survivors have suffered from hypothermia in the freezing waters and will be delivered to the clinics of Magadan by helicopter.
26 vessels are working at the site to rescue the remaining crew members. An MI-8 rescue helicopter with four rescuers and medics on board was also deployed, according to local authorities, to search for survivors. The number of workers involved in the rescue operation has been increased to 1,400 people now searching for the missing crew members. However, the chances of survival in near-freezing waters after more than 20 minutes is nearly impossible, even wearing a wetsuit, rescuers say.
No cause for the sinking was given, but the Interfax news agency said drifting ice in the chilly Pacific waters may have played a role. The trawler sent no distress signals prior to sinking. The shipwreck occurred while hauling a 100-tonne fishing seine, which is a large net used to catch fish. The Russian trawler allegedly sunk in about 15 minutes after its engine compartment had been flooded.