New Zealand officials have scaled back the search for 17 fishermen missing after a South Korean trawler sank off Antarctica, saying it was unlikely they survived the icy waters.
Five men are confirmed dead, while 20 other crew members were rescued soon after the Number One Insung went down this morning.
Maritime officials say although there are light winds and a swell of only one metre in the area, the water temperature is 2 degrees Celsius, allowing for a survival time of only 10 minutes for anyone without a life jacket or immersion suit.
“It [is] becoming increasingly unlikely further survivors [will] be found,” rescue controller Dave Wilson said.
Ross Henderson from the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre says the survivors are aboard another South Korean ship which was in the area, while a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion plane was being sent to the area.
He says it is not known why the ship sank.
“There was no distress beacon or emergency communication that we would normally expect in these situations and we don’t know what the reason for that is,” he said.
A coastguard spokesman in the southern South Korean port of Busan, where the ship is based, said there were eight Koreans, eight Chinese, 11 Indonesians, 11 Vietnamese, three Filipinos and one Russian onboard.