Latvians aboard trawler shipwrecked off Kamchatka

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The fishing trawler Dalyniy Vostok has sunk in the waters of the Okhotsk Sea off the Kamchatka peninsula in far-eastern Russia, claiming the lives of at least 54 people on board, reported Russia’s Emergency Ministry officials on Thursday.

First reports suggest the ship’s hull may have been breached by a floating iceberg in a part of the sea where the water temperatures are at about zero degrees at about 6:15 local time. It disappeared from the surface within fifteen minutes of water flooding the engine rooms, never emitting any distress signal.

However Russian news agency TASS suggests the trawler may have been trying to haul in more than it could handle in tonnage, flouting safety rules and

Among the staff are mostly Russian sailors from the island of Sakhalin, however there are also workers on board from other countries including Latvia, Burma, Ukraine and Vanuatu. Altogether 132 people, 78 Russian citizens and 54 foreign persons, reported RIA Novosti news agency.

Fifteen people are still missing, thought to have been trapped in the hold as the ship sank.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivars Lasis confirmed to national information agency LETA that three of the sailors were Latvian citizens, two of whom have been rescued, but one still remains unaccounted for, according to Russia’s emergency officials with whom the ministry is in constant contact as more news is confirmed.

The ship, built in 1989, used to be based in Riga under the name Stende, from where it plied the waters of the Baltic for many years. Last year it was purchased by the company Magellan and moved to Russia’s Far East where it was rechristened to be based in Nevelysk, Sakhalin.

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