Monday, December 13, 2010

'South Korean boat sinks, 22 dead'

At least 22 people have been killed and 20 others rescued after a South Korean fishing boat with 42 crew members sank off the Antarctica, reports say.

According to a Foreign Ministry's statement, 20 of the crew members were rescued by another fishing boat operating nearby. 

"Survival times in the water are about 10 minutes without lifejackets or immersion suits," the ministry said in the statement. 

South Korea's Foreign Ministry and coast guard officials said the 614-ton ship with 42 seamen aboard sank around 4:30 a.m. on Monday South Korean time (1930 GMT) about 1,400 miles (2,250 kilometers) south of New Zealand. 

Among the crew were Chinese, Indonesians, Filipinos and one Russian. 

Maritime NZ said the trawler, Number One Insung, went down about 1,000 nautical miles north of the McMurdo Antarctic base with no warning in apparently calm conditions. 

"We had no distress signal, at this stage we don't know what caused the vessel to sink," Maritime NZ spokesman Ross Henderson said. 

The spokesperson added that New Zealand's rescue coordination center was not informed of the accident until 1:00 p.m., about six-and-a-half hours after it occurred. 

Three South Korean and two New Zealand fishing vessels aided in the search and rescue efforts, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that the water temperature in the area was 2 degrees Celsius, or 36 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand said there was no immediate indication for the cause of the sinking. The center also said no distress call had been issued. 

In August, three people died when a South Korean fishing vessel went down 400 miles east of Dunedin, New Zealand. The New Zealand rescue agency saved 45 crew members from the ship, a spokeswoman said at the time. 

In April, just days after a South Korean warship was sunk by a torpedo allegedly fired by North Korea, a South Korean fishing boat sank during the search for survivors. That boat apparently collided with a freighter. 

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