At least 22 fishermen are feared to be killed after a South Korean trawler sank suddenly in the waters off Antarctica on Monday. Reports suggest that the incident took place after the ship, No. 1 InSung, collided with an iceberg. The ship sank even before it could send a SOS message, approximately 30 minutes into the accident, and officials state that the men onboard had no chance of getting into their protective gear. Strong winds and almost five-meter high rough waves are hampering rescue operations in the sea.
Twenty survivors were rescued by Maritime New Zealand after the trawler fishing for Patagonian toothfish sunk around 1000 nautical miles (1850 km) north of McMurdo base.
Bodies of five of the crew members were recovered. The sinking occurred in international waters but within New Zealand's search and rescue region. Three Korean fishing vessels are currently searching for the 17 missing men. Officials however maintain that the men are unlikely to survive the water with a temperature below 20c. The nationalities of the dead are yet to be determined.
It is not known at this stage what caused the vessel to sink or why no distress communication was received prior to it sinking, a statement by Maritime New Zealand said.
Information received from the rescue vessel and the fishing company states that the ship sunk very quickly, and those who were able to abandon did so directly into the water; not wearing life jackets or immersion suits, it added.