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    Tuesday, 30 January 2018

    Russia halts search for missing boat with 21 aboard

    Russian rescuers on Monday ended a search for a fishing boat with 21 people on board that went missing in the Sea of Japan, saying there was no more hope of finding survivors.
    "The search for the crew members of Vostok continued from 25 to 29 of January," said head of the Vladivostok sea rescue centre Nikolai Pirozhkov.
    "Due to lack of any reasonable hope of finding any of the crew alive ... the search was halted at 8pm (1000 GMT, 6pm Malaysia)" and any further searches will be conducted by ships passing the area, he told AFP.
    The Vostok sent out an emergency radio signal on Thursday from 200km off the coast of the fareastern Primorye region.
    Emergencies ministry planes and several ships carried out searches for five days in rough seas and strong winds but with no success.
    The vessel was going from the South Korean port of Donghae to Kholmsk on the Russian island of Sakhalin.
    “Attempts to communicate with the boat met with no success,” the ministry said. It sent out helicopters, boats, and a plane to search for the fishing vessel. A helicopter later spotted a buoy as well as two lifejackets floating on the water.
    “Rescue attempts are hindered by rough sea and strong winds,” the ministry said.
    The Investigative Committee which probes serious crimes said in a statement that it had opened a probe into possible breaches of safety rules for marine transport leading to multiple deaths.
    It said the boat was going from the port of Donghae in South Korea to the port of Kholmsk on the Russian island of Sakhalin. It said the emergency signal was sent out around 5.30am on Thursday local time, and that the boat since then has not shown up on global positioning systems.
    “In the area where the buoy went off, the boat and crew members have not been found,” it said.
    The boat belongs to a large fishing company based on Sakhalin that specialises in catching crab, Interfax reported.
    Sakhalin’s local government said in a statement that the boat was in an area with a lot of shipping and “chances are high for a positive outcome.”
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