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Russian trawler hit obstacle in Sea of Okhotsk, sank within 15 minutes — investigators

April 02, 2015, 10:08 UTC+3 MOSCOW

At least 54 people are dead as a result of a trawler sinking in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s Far East

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A fishing trawler off Kamchatka coast (Archive)

A fishing trawler off Kamchatka coast (Archive)

© Igor Vainshtein/Fotokhronika TASS

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. The Russian trawler sank off the Kamchatka Peninsula within 15 minutes early on Thursday and the most probable cause of the shipwreck is the collision with an obstacle, the official spokesman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, has said.

"The investigators are considering all the possible theories of the trawler wreck. At the moment the investigators believe that the most probable cause of the fast submersion of the vessel is the possible collision with an obstacle," the spokesman said.

The collision apparently damaged the hull in the area of machinery compartment, Markin said.

A criminal case has been opened into violation of safety rules and operating water transport that resulted in the death of two or more people. The investigation into the criminal case is under control of the Investigative Committee.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the emergencies commission in the Kamchatka region, Sergey Khabarov, said one of the causes of the shipwreck was capsizing as a result of lifting the trawl of around 80 tons.

"According to preliminary data, there was keeling over as a result of lifting the trawl with fish to the deck and then the vessel turned on its side," Khabarov said.

The Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler wrecked in the Sea of Okhotsk 330 kilometers west of Krutogorovsky settlement (Kamchatka region) and 250 kilometers south of the city of Magadan at 04:12 local time on Thursday.

The trawler, owned by Magellan LLC, was built in 1989 and its home port was Nevelsk.

A total of 132 people were reportedly on board. Out of them there were 56 passengers and 76 crew members, Markin said. There were 78 Russian nationals, 42 citizens of Myanmar, 5 citizens of Vanuatu, 3 citizens of Latvia and 4 citizens of Ukraine, he said.

According to the latest data coming from the Far East regional center of the Emergencies Ministry, 63 people have been rescued and 54 have died. A search for 15 others is ongoing.

The search operation involves 26 fishing vessels that have been sent to the shipwreck area.

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