52 Missing after South Korean Ship Sinks in Bering Sea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Rescuers resumed their search for the 52 people missing from a South Korean fishing ship that sank in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea after no survivors were found on Monday, said Seoul officials.

The Oryong 501 was carrying 60 crew members, which consisted of 35 Indonesians, 13 Filipinos, 11 Koreans and one Russian, when the vessel sank off the coast of Russia on Monday, reported CNN. Seven people were rescued while the body of one Korean crew member was recovered, leaving 52 missing.

“None of the missing crew members were rescued overnight,” an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry told Yonhap. “Search and rescue efforts resumed early Tuesday morning after being suspended for hours due to bad weather and rough seas.”

He added that five fishing ships were already mobilized near the site and that an additional six ships is expected to join them within 12 hours. However, the death toll is expected to rise since there has no been no sight of survivors.

Seoul has urged the Russian government to hasten its search for the missing crew members and sent two diplomats to Chukotka Port, the closest port from the accident site, to provide support. The U.S. coast guard has also joined the rescue efforts by flying out its aircraft, according to Yonhap. Russia is expected to do so as well.

Foreign ministry officials believe that the ship, which was catching pollock, sank due to stormy weather and high waves. According to the Associated Press, the waves were more than 13 feet high and the water was 14 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the sinking.

An official at Sajo Industries, the firm that owns the ship, said the captain had issued an escape order after the crew failed to right the ship by using a pump. He added that the seven survivors were used one of the ship’s eight lifeboats and believes that the rest of the crew attempted to escape as well.

Photo courtesy of Yonhap/AP