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At least 54 sailors killed, 15 missing as Russian trawler sinks off Kamchatka Peninsula

The crew included 42 nationals from Myanmar, 3 from Latvia, 4 from Ukraine and 5 from Vanuatu
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© AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, April 2. /TASS/. At least 54 people died and another 15 are missing after Russian trawler sank off the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East, a source in the local emergencies services said on Thursday.

"According to the latest data, 54 bodies have been recovered and 63 crew members have been rescued," the source said. A search for the 15 people is ongoing.

All the 63 rescued fishermen of the Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler are suffering hypothermia, and one is in a critical condition, a source in the main department of the Emergencies Ministry in the Kamchatka Territory told TASS.

Many of the fishermen were literally caught from water by rescue boats. "Eight rescue rafts have been found in the shipwreck area, but people were only on the four of them. The other victims were in the water," a spokesman for the maritime rescue coordination center said.

The Emergencies Ministry told TASS that the Mi-8TTB helicopter sent from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky has not yet reached the shipwreck area. It had to fly to Magadan for refueling. The helicopter is due to arrive in the coming hours.

The trawler wrecked in the Sea of Okhotsk 330 kilometers west of Krutogorovsky settlement (the Kamchatka Territory) and 250 kilometers south of the city of Magadan.

Preliminary reports say the accident occurred during hauling a 100-ton fishing seine.

A massive rescue operation has been launched that involves 1,397 people and 32 units of equipment. A total of 26 vessels are working in the area, the Kamchatka regional center of the Emergencies Ministry said.

There were 76 Russian citizens on board and also 42 nationals from Myanmar, 3 from Latvia, 4 from Ukraine and 5 from Vanuatu, a deputy government head of the Kamchatka region, Sergey Khabarov, said.

An investigation is underway. A criminal case has been opened into the accident.

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