17 crew from a Murmansk-based fishing boat are feared dead after the vessel sank in the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya island

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17 crew from a Murmansk-based fishing boat are feared dead after the vessel sank in the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya island. Another ship picked up two crew members.

A distress call from the fishing boat Onega was received by local rescue services early on Monday. Few details have been confirmed officially except that another ship that happened to be in the vicinity had rescued two of the 19-strong crew, but sources have provided some additional information to the media.

According to a source of Russian news agency TASS, unfavorable weather conditions caused heavy icing on the Onega’s hull. Temperatures near Novaya Zemlya are around 0 degrees Celsius, which means rain can turn to ice on contact with objects.

The two rescued crew members were picked up by a factory ship before they were overcome by the cold. Both were wearing drysuits when they were found. They are said to be Onega’s navigator and a sailor.

Three dedicated rescue ships have been sent to the area, but it will take them several hours to reach the location, Interfax reported.

The incident happened some 300 nautical miles (556 km) from Murmansk in northern Russia, the Onega’s home port. The boat is a privately-owned vessel and was fishing near Novaya Zemlya before it sank.

The weather in the area is bad enough to prevent the use of aircraft for the search and rescue operation, RIA Novosti reported.

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