Russian fishing boat sinks in Barents Sea | News | DW | 28.12.2020

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Russian fishing boat sinks in Barents Sea

Emergency services are currently searching for 17 people missing and feared dead, after a Russian trawler, the Onega, sank in the Arctic circle.

A red trawler

The Russian-flagged fishing trawler Onega capsized and sank in the northern Barents Sea

A Russian-flagged fishing trawler sank in the northern Barents Sea leaving 17 people missing, Russian news agencies reported on Monday citing emergency services.

Five rescue vessels are currently searching for survivors.

The missing crew are feared dead, said TASS news agency citing a source.

What we know so far

  • There were a total of 19 crew on board the Onega.
  • One crew member was found dead, reported Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
  • Two people — a sailor and a navigator — have been rescued, Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported.
  • Authorities became aware of the incident at 7.30 am local time (0430 UTC).
  • The boat sank near the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.
  • Ice accumulation led to the sinking of the vessel, emergency services reported.

How did the vessel capsize?

The disaster struck when the crew was hauling out a net with the catch, said the spokesman for the maritime and river transport agency Rosmorrechflot, Alexei Kravchenko.

"The vessel lost its balance and instantly capsized," he told AFP.

The trawler is thought to have sank so fast that crew did not have time to activate their life rafts, a source told news agency Interfax.

Crew feared dead

A source told the Interfax news agency that there was little hope of finding survivors due to strong winds and low temperatures.

"During the sinking, temperatures were as low as 30 degrees [Celsius] below zero," the source was quoted as saying.

"It's practically impossible to hold out even with wet suits on."

"A tragedy struck today in the Barents Sea," Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said, during a government meeting. "People died," he added, without providing further details.

Karte Barentssee Nowaja Semlja EN

Where is the Barents Sea?

The Barents Sea lies on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, bordering the countries Norway and Russia.

It is around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) long and 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) wide. It's fairly shallow with a depth of 230 meters.

The sea is the world's largest global cod fishery, according to the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association. Haddock is also caught in the sea.

In addition to Russia, the Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and the UK hold quotas to fish in the waters, according to the Sustainable Fisheries partnership.

Ice fishing a Christmas tradition in Russia

kmm/rt (Reuters, AFP)