Shipwreck captain still lost and feared dead

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Shipwreck captain still lost and feared dead


A South Korean trawler sunk in waters off New Zealand early yesterday, killing at least three of its crew. Three more, including 42-year-old Korean captain Shin Hyeon-gi, are missing.

New Zealand authorities said they wrapped up a search and rescue mission for the missing around 12 hours after the accident, assuming the three missing men drowned. Sajo Industries, the boat’s owner, said it will launch its own rescue work beginning today.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Korea-registered Oyang 70, a 1,599-ton 82-meter trawler carrying 51 sailors, sunk off New Zealand’s east coast at around 4:30 a.m. yesterday local time. The cause of the accident is unknown, it said.

The corpses of three Indonesian crewmen were recovered, and 45 crew members - seven Koreans, 31 Indonesians, six Filipinos and one Chinese - were rescued from five life rafts.

The three missing men -Shin and two Indonesians - may have escaped on a raft. The ship had six rafts, according to the Web site of Maritime New Zealand, the New Zealand marine authority.

Maritime New Zealand said the search by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) involving a New Zealand search aircraft P3 Orion and several New Zealand fishing boats began after receiving an alert from the vessel’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) at 4.40 a.m. local time.

But, according to the RCCNZ, the search team failed to find any trace of the sixth life raft, let alone the missing.

“Sadly, the chances of survival are now nil,” RCCNZ coordinator Mike Roberts was quoted as saying on Maritime New Zealand’s Web site after the decision to cease search activity was made. “The P3 Orion has been unable to locate the sixth life raft which indicates to us it has gone down with the vessel.”

Without a life raft, a person wearing a full immersion suit would survive in 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) water temperatures for three hours at the maximum, Roberts said.

Sajo Industries said it still hopes the missing are alive.

“As soon as we heard of the accident, we sent another trawler in the area to do a search on our own,” said Lee Gyeong-yeong, an assistant manager of the Seoul-based company. Lee said the boat dispatched was Oyang 77, the same type of crawler as the Oyang 70.

“It will arrive at the site tomorrow evening and will search for the missing,” Lee said. Lee said the company described the plan to Shin’s family in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi. “The family also told us that they will not give up hope,” Lee said. The Foreign Ministry said after the accident, it dispatched a consul at the Korean Embassy to the RCCNZ to monitor the search activity.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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