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Russian trawler tragedy killing 56 likely caused by overcrowding — source

April 03, 2015, 10:33 UTC+3

The Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler that left the Vladivostok port for South Korea was supposed to be carrying no more than 62 people while it had 132 people onboard

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Search operation in the Okhotsk Sea

Search operation in the Okhotsk Sea

© AP Photo/Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, April 3. /TASS/. A Russian trawler capsized and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula earlier this week because it was seriously overcrowded, with 70 people not listed onboard, a source in the Far Eastern sea port of Vladivostok has told TASS.

According to the crew list, the Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler that left the Vladivostok port for South Korea was supposed to be carrying no more than 62 people. In fact, there were 132 crew members onboard.

So far, a total of 63 people have been rescued and another 56 have died. A search for 13 others missing is ongoing.

"According to the captain of the port, under the crew list, there were 62 crew members onboard the vessel. He can say nothing more as all the documents have been seized by the Investigative Committee," the source said.

The vessel had bottled water, fuel and rescue equipment enough for the number of people mentioned in the crew list. "The respective documents were also fine, otherwise it would not have allowed going on the voyage," the source said.

The trawler could also capsize as a result of a lack of ballast, another theory says. Sergey Sheredekin, who heads the emergencies commission, told TASS on Friday that the fuel tanks on the vessel that have a role of ballast were due to have not less than 250 tonnes of fuel, but they had only 100 tonnes.

The Far Eastern investigative department on transport said on Friday the results of the checks into the possible violation of safety rules will be announced in a week.

A helicopter with three fishermen from the wrecked trawler, who are in extremely serious condition, landed in the airport of the Russian Far Eastern city of Magadan earlier on Friday, the regional Emergencies Ministry department said.

Over the past 24 hours, the area being searched spanned about 8,800 square kilometers (3,500 square miles).The effort involves 2,000 people. Beriev Be-200 multipurpose amphibious aircraft is expected to join the search operation in Magadan. Another Mi-8 helicopter and An-74 aircraft will be also involved in the effort.

The Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler wrecked in the Sea of Okhotsk 330 kilometers west of Krutogorovsky settlement in Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka territory and 250 kilometers south of the city of Magadan overnight to Thursday. The trawler, owned by Magellan LLC, was built in 1989 and its home port was Nevelsk.

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