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TRAGIC: More than 50 fisherman missing after South Korean ship sinks in freezing temperatures.

A SEARCH and rescue operation is underway to find more than 50 missing fishermen after their ship sank off the coast of Russia.

Seven crew members from the South Korean vessel have so far been plucked alive from the freezing waters of the Bering Sea, off the coast of Russia’s ChukosPam MsG bLoCked By Admina region.

One body has also been recovered from the waters, which were below -10C.

However waves of up to 13 feet and poor weather conditions have complicated the search for others, an official from the South Korean fisheries and oceans ministry said on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

The official said that it is believed that the storage areas of the ship, which was catching pollock, were flooded with seawater, causing the vessel to list. Kim Kang-ho from Sajo Industries, the canned tuna company that owns the ship, said the 2,000 ton vessel was 36 years old.

Mr Kim said that the ship left Busan, in South Korea, on July 10 to fish waters in the Bering Sea.

An official from South Korea’s foreign ministry, who refused to be named, said today that the death toll was expected to rise.

They added that although four fishing ships that were operating nearby are continuing to search for survivors, poor conditions have limited their movement.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won told a Cabinet meeting that the government will work with Russia to speed up rescue efforts.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said the Government was working with Russia

The seven rescued fisherman are unharmed and will return to South Korea once the weather improves, authorities in the Russian port of Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky said.

Artur Rets, chief of the rescue center at the Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky port, told the RIA Novosti news agency:

“The condition of the fishermen who were rescued is fine.”

‘The survivors used one of the ship’s eight lifeboats to escape the sinking vessel, another official from Sajo – who did not wish to be named – said.

He added that the captain of the ship had issued an escape order and it was believed that the rest of the crew also attempted to escape.

The ship’s sinking comes just months after the sinking of the Sewol ferry off South Korea.

The worst maritime disaster to strike the country in decades left more than 300 passengers dead – most of them teenagers on a school trip.

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