14 Dec 2010

No more survivors found from sunken fishing vessel

9:50 pm on 14 December 2010

Rescuers have been unable to find any more survivors from the South Korean fishing vessel that sank off Antarctica, Maritime New Zealand says.

Twenty-two crew of the No. 1 InSung are now presumed dead.

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

Three South Korean vessels searched overnight on Monday for 17 missing men, to no avail.

Five bodies had already been recovered and 20 people rescued by a sister ship No. 707 Hongjin which was three nautical miles from the fishing boat at the time of the sinking.

Ramon Davis from the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Wellington told Morning Report there was very little chance the 17 men would have survived in icy waters.

He said the centre wasn't informed about the sinking for six hours, and it seemed no mayday call was made.

About midday on Tuesday, Maritime New Zealand said the search had been called off.

Owners of the No. 1 InSung say the vessel may have collided with an iceberg or been hit by a strong wave.

The editor of the Professional Skipper magazine, Keith Ingram, a former commercial fisherman, says many of these vessels are not ice-strengthened and not fit to be fishing so far into the Southern Ocean.