13 Dec 2010

Search continues for missing crew in Southern Ocean

10:08 pm on 13 December 2010

The search for survivors of a Korean fishing vessel that sank in the Southern Ocean is continuing.

Three Korean fishing vessels will keep looking for 17 men still missing after the Korean-owned and operated No. 1 In Sung sank early on Monday.

The ship is reported to have sunk at 6.30am in calm conditions about 2700km southeast of Bluff and inside New Zealand's search and rescue region.

The owners say the ship sank within 30 minutes and have speculated that it hit an iceberg or was swamped by a big wave.

There was no distress call sent and New Zealand's Rescue Co-ordination Centre was not advised until 1pm.

The ship has crew from Korea, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Russia. Five bodies have been recovered.

Twenty survivors are said to be in a comfortable condition on the vessel No. 707 Hongjin.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre says as time passes, the chances of any of the remaining crew surviving are increasingly slim.

It says the water temperature is about 2 degrees Celsius, with only a 10-minute survival time for anyone wearing life-jackets or immersion suits.

Two New Zealand fishing vessels have been stood down from the search.