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Three believed dead, crew evacuated from burning Korean fishing boat in Southern Ocean

01-11-2012 11:53 BJT

WELLINGTON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Three crew members of a Korean fishing boat are believed dead and seven have burn injuries after a fire on board the vessel in the Southern Ocean, the New Zealand maritime rescue authorities said Wednesday.

The Jeong Woo 2 was still burning and believed to be sinking in the Ross Sea off Antarctica, said the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

The crew of the Jeong Woo 2 had been evacuated to two other Korean fishing vessels -- the Jeong Woo 3 and Hong Jin 707, said a statement from the RCCNZ.

"Two of the rescued crew members from the Jeong Woo 2 are believed to have extensive burn injuries and another five have less serious burns," said the statement.

"Three crew members are still missing and are believed to have died in the fire in the vessel's accommodation block."

The 51-meter Jeong Woo 2 was fishing in the Ross Sea, about 2, 000 nautical miles (3,704 km) southeast of New Zealand and about 600 km north of the McMurdo Station.

The vessel issued a distress call, which was picked up by Hong Jin 707 and relayed to the RCCNZ by the New Zealand vessel Antarctic Chieftain just before 3 a.m. New Zealand time.

The rescuing vessels said they were unable to leave the location due to ice and fog conditions and planned to transfer the injured seamen from the Jeong Woo 3 to the U.S. research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, which was heading to meet them.

The Nathaniel B. Palmer had suitable medical facilities on board and, after medical assessment, might sail to the U.S. Antarctic research station at the McMurdo Base to put the injured seamen ashore for further treatment and possible evacuation to New Zealand, said the statement.

Other vessels were also responding and had been asked to rendezvous with the Jeong Woo 3 and the Hong Jin 707 to take aboard the uninjured crew, as the two vessels are unable to proceed with the significant numbers of extra people on board.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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