South Korea fish­ing boat sinks in Antarc­tic ocean; 22 feared dead

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

WELLING­TON: A South Korean fish­ing boat sank in the Antarc­tic Ocean's frigid wa­ters Mon­day, with 22 sailors feared killed in the open sea where ves­sels trawl for deep­wa­ter fish.

Five sailors were con­firmed dead and 20 sur­vivors were res­cued shortly af­ter the 614-ton ves­sel went down some 1,400 miles (2,250 kilo­me­ters) south of New Zealand, about half­way to Antarc­tica, South Korea's For­eign Min­istry and coast guard said. Seven­teen sailors were missing.

Any­one who fell into such wa­ters would typ­i­cally be dead in 10 min­utes with­out spe­cial suits or life­jack­ets, though nearby fish­ing boats searched fran­ti­cally in hopes that some may be in a life raft, New Zealand's res­cue co­or­di­na­tion cen­ter said.

"We were for­tu­nate that there were a num­ber of ves­sels in the gen­eral area (where the boat sank), so they were able to pro­vide as­sis­tance," Hen­der­son said.

The search for sur­vivors was scaled down later Mon­day as res­cuers said it was in­creas­ingly un­likely fur­ther sur­vivors would be found.

Two New Zealand fish­ing boats were re­leased from the ef­fort but three Korean ves­sels searched on, of­fi­cials said.

Res­cuers con­sid­ered call­ing in air­craft from ei­ther New Zealand or from the U.S. Antarc­tic re­search sta­tion on McMurdo Sound, but Hen­der­son said the plan was aban­doned be­cause nei­ther plane could reach the dis­tant search area in time to find sur­vivors.

Many fish­ing ves­sels ply the re­mote seas to haul in deep­wa­ter fish such as the Patag­o­nian tooth­fish, also known as Chilean sea bass, to sell to restau­rants around the world. With world con­sump­tion of seafood in­creas­ing, com­mer­cial fleets have be­gun to op­er­ate far­ther off­shore to meet de­mand.

The South Korean owned and op­er­ated No. 1 In­sung boat had 42 peo­ple on board when it sunk: eight South Kore­ans, eight Chi­nese, 11 In­done­sians, 11 Viet­namese, three Filipinos and one Rus­sian, South Korea's For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment.

The con­firmed dead in­cluded two In­done­sians, two South Kore­ans and one Viet­namese, a min­istry of­fi­cial said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of of­fice rules. He said that four Chi­nese sailors were missing while four other Chi­nese were res­cued.

It was un­clear why the ves­sel sank in light winds and a rel­a­tively mild 3-foot (1me­ter) swell. Sep­a­rately, South Korean me­dia out­lets re­ported that high waves that later de­vel­oped in the area were ham­per­ing the res­cue op­er­a­tion.

Seoul-based In­sung Cor­po­ra­tion - which owns the boat - said that in­tense res­cue op­er­a­tions were un­der way. Com­pany of­fi­cial Lee Wu­won said that a South Korean fish­ing boat op­er­at­ing nearby first con­tacted In­sung of­fi­cials about the sink­ing ear­lier Mon­day.

Tear­ful fam­ily mem­bers of the missing sailors gath­ered at In­sung's of­fice in the south­east­ern port city of Bu­san and waited for news on their loved ones.

Kim Sun-su said his brother-in-law, the boat's missing skip­per, Yu Young­sup, told him he didn't want to work on the boat any longer in a re­cent phone call.

" I only hope he will re­turn home alive," Kim said, ac­cord­ing to South Korea's Yon­hap news agency. -Ap

BER­LIN: Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter Karl-Theodor zu Gut­ten­berg and his wife Stephanie sit in­side a Ger­man Air Force mil­i­tary trans­port plane on their way to Mazir-i-Sharif in north­ern Afghanistan. -Reuters

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