A Russian freezer trawler with an international crew of 132 sank this morning in the Sea of Okhotsk off of the Kamchatka Peninsula and at least 54 crew members were killed, rescue workers say. Emergency services in Kamchatka, citing the head of the rescue operation, say 63 crew members were rescued and the fate of the remaining 15 from the Dalny Vostok trawler is unknown. More than 25 fishing boats in the area helped to rescue the crew members, emergency services say. No cause for the sinking was given, but the Interfax news agency says drifting ice in the chilly Pacific waters may have played a role.
The trawler sent no distress signals prior to sinking, Interfax says. The Russian Emergencies Ministry sent an Mi-8 helicopter with rescuers and doctors aboard to deliver medical assistance and transport rescued crew members to hospitals in the city of Magadan, the ministry says. Among the 132 crew members, 78 are from Russia, 42 from Burma, and the rest from Latvia, Ukraine, and Vanuatu. The search and rescue operation involved 1,300 people and 29 units of equipment, according to emergency services. (Read more Sea of Okhotsk stories.)