Dozens missing after Korean fishing vessel sinks

The Oryong-501 had a crew of more than 60. Picture: Getty
The Oryong-501 had a crew of more than 60. Picture: Getty
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Rescuers were last night searching for more than 50 ­people missing after a South ­Korean fishing vessel sank in high waves in the freezing ­waters of the Bering Sea.

Officials confirmed that at least one person has died.

Seven crew members were rescued and one body recovered, but weather conditions were complicating the search for the others, an official from the South Korean fisheries and oceans ministry said.

The crew of the Oryong-501 included 35 Indonesians, 13 ­Filipinos, 11 South Koreans and one ­Russian inspector, the ­official said.

Russian authorities said that there were 62 people aboard the ship, which went down near the Chukotka peninsula.

It appears that no distress ­signal was sent and four Russian fishing boats were first on the scene.

It is believed that the 35-year-old, 2,100-ton ship, which was catching pollock, began to list after seawater flooded into ­storage areas.

Artur Rets, chief of the rescue centre at the Russian port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky said: “The condition of the fishermen who were rescued is fine.

“They are currently on the ship that rescued them. They will stay there until the weather improves and South Korea ­decides how to get them out of here.”

Rets said the rescue operation was ongoing.

Kim Kang-ho from Sajo ­Industries, which owns the ship, said it left for the Bering Sea from Busan, South Korea, on 10 July.

There are five South Korean-owned ships currently fishing in the Bering Sea to catch pollock, which is a winter delicacy in the country.

Another official from Sajo, who did not want to be named, said the ship had eight lifeboats and that the seven fishermen who survived and the person later found dead used one of them to escape.

The captain is said to have ­ordered the ship to be abandoned and it was believed that the rest of the crew also tried to get off the vessel.

At the time of the sinking, the waves were more than 13ft high and water temperatures were below -10C.

Russia allows South Korea to fish in its waters for pollock, cod, Pacific saury, squid and other fish.