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22 June 2024

3 dead after fire on Korean trawler in Antarctica


Three crew from a Korean fishing boat are believed to have died and seven others have burns after a fire broke out on their trawler off Antarctica, New Zealand rescue officials said Wednesday.

The 51-metre (155-foot) Jeong Woo 2 was in the remote Ross Sea, about 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) southeast of New Zealand, and some 600 kilometres (375 miles) north of Antarctica's McMurdo Station when the blaze erupted.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) spokeswoman Sharon Cuzens said the boat issued a distress call overnight, which was picked up by RCCNZ, and two other Korean fishing boats responded and evacuated the ship.

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

Around 40 crew were on board the boat at the time.

RCCNZ said two of the rescued men were suffering extensive burns while five others had less serious burn injuries.

It said the crew was being medically assessed and the rescuing ships planned to transfer injured seamen to the US research vessel Nathaniel B Palmer, which was steaming north to meet them, although ice and fog was hampering efforts.

The Nathaniel B Palmer has suitable medical facilities on board and will sail to McMurdo Base to put the injured seamen ashore.

The Jeong Woo 2 was still burning and appeared to be sinking, RCCNZ added.