Russian fishing trawler sinks in Barents Sea leaving 17 sailors missing

An inlet from the Barents Sea, near to where the vessel sank.
An inlet from the Barents Sea, near to where the vessel sank. Copyright FILE - AP Photo/Alastair Grant
Copyright FILE - AP Photo/Alastair Grant
By Euronews
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The fishing vessel sank near the New Zealand archipelago of Nueva Zembla.


Seventeen sailors are missing after a Russian fishing trawler sank in the northern Barents Sea.

Two other members of the 19-person crew were rescued after the Onega vessel overturned in the Arctic waters, authorities said on Monday.

The fishing vessel, registered in the port of Murmansk in northwest Russia, sank near the archipelago of Nueva Zembla.

A criminal probe into the incident has been launched and a search operation involving several vessels and aircraft is underway.

"According to preliminary data, a rescue buoy was activated on the sunken ship," Russia's investigative committee said in a statement.

Russia's ministry of emergencies said Onega sent out distress signals during a storm.

The fishing vessel sank in icy waters near the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.Euronews

Authorities initially suggested that an accumulation of ice on the trawler could have caused it to sink but later said the vessel was more likely to have heeled over while pulling up the fishing nets.

The ministry added there is only a very slim chance that the missing crew members have survived, due to extreme weather conditions in the region and freezing water temperatures.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin offered his condolences to the sailors' families and ordered the government to provide them with the necessary support, referring to a "tragedy" and confirming that "people have died".

"A tragedy struck today in the Barents Sea," Mishustin said at a government meeting, without providing further details.

In January 2018, a Russian fishing vessel with 21 people on board sank in the Sea of Japan, with no survivors found after five days of search operations.

Meanwhile, 14 officers were killed when their submarine caught fire in the Barents Sea in July 2019.

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