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27 Aug, 2010 05:01

5 Missing as Russian ship sinks in Arctic sea

A tugboat with a crew of 14 sank in the Laptev Sea in the Russian Arctic on Friday. Three crew members have been rescued and the bodies of six sailors have been found during the rescue operation. 5 are still missing.

“All the dead were wearing life vests and died from hypothermia. Water temperature in the area is only 2-4º С above zero,” local department of the Ministry for Emergences told Itar-Tass news agency.

Emergency officials who attended the incident say life rafts were recovered at the scene.

The Aleksey Kulakovsky tugboat sank in the Laptev Sea about 20 miles off the coast, near the port of Tiksi, after responding to a call for technical assistance from another vessel.

Search and rescue operations started right after received information on the sunken tugboat in the area of the accident. The captain and two seamen from the sunken vessel were lifted aboard the Lena-Neft-2064 tanker. The state of the sailors is described as satisfactory.

A group of rescuers and staff members of the Tiksi section of the Ministry for Emergences also rushed to the place of the incident. A MI-8 helicopter of the Polar Airlines with rescuers and doctors aboard flew from Yakutsk this morning to the search area, as well as two ships that happened to be in the region of the incident.

Rescue operations have ceased for the night as darkness has fallen in the region.