A Russian fishing trawler, Onega, capsized and sank in the freezing waters of the northern Barents Sea , off the coast of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago,on Monday. Only two crew members in wetsuits had been rescued by another fishing boat in the area. Missing 17 of its 19 crew members are feared dead. Ships from Russia’s Northern Fleet were headed to the area to try to look for survivors. A military plane was sent to the area to support rescue efforts. There are polar night in the Barents Sea this time of the year. Rescue ships are facing temperatures of around minus 20C and waves of around four meters high.”Chances of survival in such conditions, even if someone was wearing a wet suit, are practically zero,” expert said.
One crew member had already been found dead in Arctic waters. A criminal probe into the incident has been launched. The Investigative Committee looks to determine whether the sinking was linked to violations of maritime safety regulations. Ice accumulation on the boat could have caused the sinking of the trawler, Russia’s Emergency Ministry said. Icing on ships can happen when temperatures are below freezing in combination with strong wind. Onega had Murmansk as homeport and 16 of the crew members came from the city. All crew members are reported to be Russian citizens.