Vessel Capsizes in Sea of Japan Leaving At Least 6 Dead
Six mariners have been reported dead after their Russian fishing vessel capsized in the Sea of Japan early Sunday. 15 crewmembers were rescued; nine are still missing.
Eight are believed to have been tossed overboard after succumbing to hypothermia in the lifeboats that were used.
Local authorities report that the ship, Shans-101, rolled on its side and sank in Japanese waters off Russia's Primorye Territory with 30 crewmen onboard. The crew consisted of 19 Russians and 11 Indonesians.
Rescuers recovered two life rafts from the wreck site. The first raft held 10 of the men, while five were aboard the second raft. Several rescue ships, an amphibious Beriev Be-200 aircraft and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter continued looking for other survivors, reports UPI Asia.
As of now, 3,000 square miles of the Sea of Japan has been combed in hopes of finding those missing. The air search has been put off until morning due to nightfall.
The incident may be related to possible safety violations. Russia’s Investigative Committee conducted a search at the offices of the ship's operator, Vostok-1, as part of a criminal investigation that could lead to charges of maritime safety violations resulting in the death of two or more persons, says Ria Novosti.
Investigators are currently reviewing two versions of events: the violation of maritime rules by crew members and technical failure. Crew members reportedly told investigators the boat was hit by a wave. The Prosecutor General's office also said it will analyze the procedure for the rescue operation, as well as the ship's paperwork and preparedness for ocean travel.
Official Statement from The Investigative Committe of the Russian Federation:
Investigating bodies of the Far Eastern Transport Investigations Directorate of the Russia’s Investigative Committee have launched criminal proceedings into the sinking of the Shans-101 fishing vessel in the Sea of Japan over signs of a crime under part 3 of article 263 of the RF Criminal Code (violation of the rules for traffic safety and operation of sea transport involving by negligence death of two or more persons).
According to preliminary data, the Shans-101 fishing vessel (homeport – Nakhodka, ship owner – ZAO Fishing Company Vostok-1) sank on 26 January 2013 in the Sea of Japan about 32 nautical miles off the shore of Terneysky district of Primorsky Territory. There were 30 crew members aboard, including 19 citizens of Russia and 11 citizens of Indonesia. 15 sailors have been saved, 15 are reported missing. Investigators have documents according to which the ship had left from the port Plastun of Primorsky Territory into fishing expedition. The ship was examined by Russian Sea Register in April 2012.
Investigators are looking into the following versions of the accidents: violation of sea navigation rules by crew and technical failure of the ship.
10 of the saved sailors have been delivered to the port Kholmsk, Sakhalin Region. A rescue ship with other 5 saved sailors, including the captain and his mates, will arrive at the port Haknodka, Primorsky Territory, today.
The saved sailors, who were delivered to the port Kholmsk, Sakhalin Region, have been questioned. According to the survivors, originally there were 18 people aboard a life raft, 8 people died of hypothermia. Their bodies were lowered outboard. The sailors say that the ship capsized due to the stroke of the wave during a maneuver. Two survivors have light frostbite, the rest – 2 and 3 degree frostbite.
Searches are underway in the ship owning company’s office in Vladivostok.
During the inquest investigators are going by all means find out all the circumstances under which the ship went to voyage, study technical state of the ship, qualify the actions of persons responsible for safety during the voyage. Investigation is to be continued.