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Search operation for two missing crewmembers from West ship continues off Kamchatka

September 25, 2012, 3:24 UTC+3

Fishermen and hunters are inspecting coastal areas. The operation will be conducted till evening

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PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, September 25 (Itar-Tass) —— The search operation for two missing crew members from the sunken refrigerator ship West continues in the Sea of Okhotsk off the coast of Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, a spokesman for the local emergencies administration told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

The search operation involves two big autonomous refrigerator trawlers. Moreover, all ships that happen to be in the West sinking area also help. Fishermen and hunters are inspecting coastal areas. The operation will be conducted till evening. If it fails on Tuesday, from September 26 it will be reduced to incidental search.

The West sank on September 23 four nautical miles off the coast near the settlement of Oktyabrsky. It had ten people onboard. Eight were saved on life rafts. They were later taken to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky safe and sound.

Rescuers found two more life rafts and a rubber boat from the sunken ship with no humans.

A criminal case was opened on charges of violation of traffic and operation safety rules that caused the death of two or more persons (part 3, article 263 of the Russian Criminal Code). According to the Far Eastern transport investigation department of the Russian Investigations Committee, the ship sank after it had been hit by a wave against its starboard.

According to the federal authority for transport oversight, the West was performing a freight voyage from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the Manily settlement, with 49 tons of cargoes (medicines, foodstuffs, building materials) onboard. The crew lacked several members, including the captain, bosun, third ship engineer, and a sailor. More to it, the ship had at least three persons who were not on the crew list. Thus, among the reasons that might have caused the accident the authority lists the understaffed crew or possible cargo’s breaking adrift and the ship’s stability loss.

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