On Monday, a Russian trawler capsized in a storm and sank in the glaciers of the Barents Sea. On Monday, 17 fishermen were missing, fearing death. Officials said two people were rescued by a passing ship, but people hope to fade soon, because more survivors can be found in the snowstorm in Arctic waters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims on Monday and expressed “words of support” to the survivors.
Putin said in a statement issued by the Kremlin: “I learned of this tragedy sadly.”
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke at a government meeting earlier in the day, instructing officials to provide necessary assistance to the relatives of the victims.
Mishustin said: “Today a tragedy happened in the Barents Sea.”
Officials said the search and rescue operation is underway, but bad weather has complicated the task.
Alexei Barinov, spokesperson for the Ministry of Emergency Affairs in Northwest Murmansk, told AFP: “The snowstorm was heavy, the waves reached four meters, and the temperature was about 20-25 degrees Celsius below zero.”
He added: “We hope to have a New Year’s miracle.”
However, a source familiar with the details of the search told AFP that there is little hope of finding survivors.
The source said: “In this case, one person cannot last more than 15 minutes.”
Ruslan Nazarov, head of the Murmansk branch of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, said that the private ship named “Onega” was in Nova on the Barents Sea around 6:20 am (0330 GMT). Sunk near the Ya Zemlya Islands.
Nazarov told reporters that ten minutes later, a passing boat rescued two fishermen.
Officials believe that the Russian flag ship, which has been operating since 1979, capsized after ice accumulation caused it to capsize.
Alexei Kravchenko, a spokesperson for the maritime and inland water transport company Rosmorrechflot, said that when the crew used fishing nets to trawl the net, the disaster happened.
He told AFP: “The ship lost its balance and capsized immediately.”
Officials said that three ships and an Il-38 maritime patrol plane had been sent to the scene.
Kravchenko said that although the two survivors witnessed a crew member die in front of them, no bodies have been found so far.
Maritime accidents are quite common in Russia.
In April 2015, a Russian trawler sank in the Sea of Okhotsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Only 63 of the 132 people on board Dalniy Vostok were rescued.
In December 2011, a drilling rig overturned in a storm and sank on Sakhalin Island. More than 50 people were killed or missing.