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Russia ends search for bodies of 17 fisherman in Arctic Ocean

Russian Coast Guard. (United States Coast Guard/Petty Officer Jonathan R. Cilley)

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

Russian officials have stopped the search for the bodies of 17 fishermen who fell into the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean when their trawler capsized during a storm a week ago.

The Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transportation (Rosmorrechflot) said on January 4 that the search and rescue operations were stopped, adding that none of the bodies were found.

The Onega vessel capsized on December 28, 2020, during a heavy storm, and two of the 19 fishermen aboard were rescued at the time.

On December 30, the remaining 17 missing men were officially presumed dead.

It is not clear what exactly caused the vessel to capsize.

Media reports said ice accumulation on the fishing boat carrying the Russian crew led to the sinking.

The Investigative Committee has launched a probe into what it called “possible violation of exploitation of a vessel.”

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

Maritime accidents are not uncommon in Russia.

In April 2015, a Russian trawler carrying 132 people sank off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the country’s Far East. Only 63 were rescued.