S. Korea set to end search for missing crew of sunken trawler

December 29, 2014
Executives of Sajo Industries bow to families of the missing fishermen of the South Korean fishing boat Oryong 501, which sank in the western Bering Sea on Dec. 1, during a briefing session at the company's branch office in Busan, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Kim Sun-ho)

Executives of Sajo Industries bow to families of the missing fishermen of the South Korean fishing boat Oryong 501, which sank in the western Bering Sea on Dec. 1, during a briefing session at the company’s branch office in Busan, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Kim Sun-ho)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea plans to terminate its search for missing crewmen of a sunken South Korean trawler this week due mainly to bad weather, nearly a month after it went down off Russia’s far east coast, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Monday.

The 1,753-ton Oryong 501 carrying 60 crew sank in the western Bering Sea on Dec. 1. One Russian inspector and six crew members — three Filipinos and three Indonesians — survived the sinking, with 27 crew members confirmed dead and 26 others remaining missing.

South Korea, the United States and Russia have conducted the search for the missing crewmen, but no major progress has been made due mainly to inclement weather.

A ranking official at Seoul’s foreign ministry said that the government will end the search operation on Wednesday, given freezing water temperatures and security concerns for rescuers aboard a 5,000-ton patrol ship dispatched to the area.

Two South Korean surveillance aircraft and the patrol ship have been involved in the search operation. The patrol vessel will also end its mission at year-end, he noted.

The official also said South Korean fishing vessels, which have been engaged in the operation, will be inevitably withdrawn from the accident scene as they are permitted to do fishing only until the end of this year.

A Russian ship carrying six survivors and 21 bodies of Southeast Asian victims arrived at South Korea’s southeastern port of Busan on Friday after sailing for more than two weeks.

The bodies of six other South Koreans have not been brought home yet at the request of their bereaved families who asked for the search to be finished first.

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