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17 feared dead after Russian trawler sinks in freezing Arctic waters

The russian trawler SERGEY MAKAREVICH (heb/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Seventeen fishermen are feared dead after a Russian fishing trawler capsized during a storm and sank in the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean.

“At 7:30 a.m., information was received that the Onega vessel…had sunk in the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya in the Arkhangelsk region. The crew had 19 people. Two people were rescued,” the Russian Emergencies Ministry said on December 28, adding that searches are under way.

It is believed that ice accumulation on the fishing boat, which was carrying a Russian crew, led to the sinking.

Interfax quoted a source as saying that the trawler sank so fast that crew did not have time to activate their life rafts.

There was little hope of finding survivors hours after the tragedy due to strong winds and freezing temperatures, the source added.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Northern Fleet had deployed an aircraft to join the search-and-rescue operation.

Adverse weather conditions, including 4-meter-high waves and temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius, had complicated the deployment of the aircraft, the ministry said.

The Russian-flagged vessel had reportedly been operating since 1979.

Maritime accidents are not uncommon in Russia.

In April 2015, a Russian trawler sank off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the country’s Far East. Of the 132 people on board the ship, only 63 were rescued.