S Korea halts search for 17 missing crewmen

The search for 17 crewmen missing from a S Korean trawler that sank off Antarctica has been halted.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 10:31 AM IST

Wellington: Rescuers Tuesday called off the
search for 17 crew members missing from a South Korean trawler that sank off Antarctica, bringing the death toll from the tragedy to 22.

There was no reasonable hope the missing men from the No.
1 Insung were still alive after 30 hours in the icy Southern
Ocean without proper immersion suits, Maritime New Zealand
said.

"Survival times for crew members in the water would be
very short," rescue coordinator Dave Wilson said.

"The medical advice is that those who did not suffer
cardiac arrest on entering the water would likely be
unconscious after one hour, and unable to be resuscitated
after two hours."

Three South Korean trawlers searched overnight but found
no crewmen in the remote area 1,000 nautical miles north of
the McMurdo Antarctic base and 1,500 nautical miles from New
Zealand`s southern tip.

"Unfortunately, the Southern Ocean is an extremely
unforgiving environment... sadly, it is exceedingly unlikely
that anyone not picked up yesterday could have survived,"
Wilson said.

The trawler sank suddenly at 6:30 am yesterday, with its
owners saying it may have collided with an iceberg.

Maritime NZ said the vessel went down so fast it did not
send an SOS and crew members had no chance to don protective
gear as they scrambled to escape.

Another South Korean trawler, the No. 707 Hongjin,
plucked 20 fishermen from the ocean shortly after the boat
sank. Maritime NZ said none required medical treatment.
A coastguard spokesman in the South Korean port of Busan,
where the ship is based, told AFP yesterday there were eight
Koreans, eight Chinese, 11 Indonesians, 11 Vietnamese, three
Filipinos and one Russian on board.

The nationalities of the dead are not known.

The freezing conditions and remote location meant the
prospect of finding anyone alive was always slim.

It would have taken days for ships from New Zealand to
steam to the area. and Maritime NZ said sending a plane was
also "not viable" because it was an eight-hour flight.

In addition, Maritime New Zealand said it was not told
about the accident until yesterday afternoon, more than six
hours after it occurred.

The No. 1 Insung was built in Japan in 1979, according to
the website of the Commission for the Conservation of
Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the global body
overseeing fishing in Antarctic waters.

Bureau Report