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22 dead as S. Korean fishing boat sinks

Associated Press / December 14, 2010

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Seventeen fishermen missing for more than 30 hours after their South Korean boat sank near Antarctica were given up for dead today, with officials saying no one could have survived the icy waters.

New Zealand’s rescue coordination center, which was running a search by private vessels in the remote region, said it had suspended the operation indefinitely.

The No. 1 Insung went down yesterday some 1,400 miles south of New Zealand, about halfway to Antarctica. It sank quickly — prompting speculation it struck an iceberg — and the crew of 42 had to abandon ship without donning survival gear.

Nearby ships quickly pulled 20 survivors from the sea, along with the bodies of five dead crewmen, leaving 17 unaccounted for.

Dave Wilson, a rescue coordination spokesman, said today it was “exceedingly unlikely’’ that any of the 17 missing could have survived; with sea temperatures near freezing anyone who fell in would be dead in 10 minutes without special suits or lifejackets.

Three South Korean and two New Zealand fishing boats were called into the search by the Rescue Coordination Center yesterday.

The New Zealand vessels were released yesterday evening. The three other boats continued to search overnight, but were released today.

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