Stricken Russian Fishing Ship Sends Distress Call in Antarctic Waters

Posted December 15th, 2011 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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New Zealand authorities say it may take up to five days for rescue vessels to reach 32 crew members of

a troubled Russian fishing ship that is taking on water near Antarctica and has sent out a distress call.

The 55-meter ship, the Sparta, sent the call early Friday about 3,700 kilometers southeast of New Zealand.

The Sparta is on a 13-degree list but is not in any immediate danger of sinking. Its crew of 15 Russians, 16 Indonesians and a Ukrainian has been pumping the water out of the ship and unloaded cargo to lighten the vessel.

New Zealand officials say several fishing boats near the Sparta are unable to help because they do not have proper equipment to cut through sea ice, hampering vessel movement. Ships capable of breaking through the ice are headed towards the vessel, but are several days away.

In the meantime, a plane from the Antarctic Research Center at McMurdo Station is scheduled to fly over the Sparta later Friday to access ice conditions.