3 missing, 37 rescued in Korean fishing boat fire

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Three Korean fishermen are missing while another 37 were rescued Wednesday after their vessel caught fire in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand said the 167-foot Jung Woo 2 sent out a distress call early Wednesday and two nearby fishing vessels rushed to help out.

Center spokeswoman Sharon Cuzens said three of the rescued crew were suffering from serious burns and needed to be moved by crane onto the rescue boats. She said a U.S. research vessel with onboard medical facilities is steaming toward the fishing boats to treat the injured crew. It’s expected to arrive Wednesday evening.

Australian records show the Jung Woo 2 is owned by the Sunwoo Corporation and is licensed to fish for Chilean sea bass, crab and other bottom fish. The ship was built in 1985 in Japan and is registered in Busan, South Korea.

The ship got into trouble in the Ross Sea about 370 miles north of the U.S. McMurdo Station Antarctic base.

The sister ship Jung Woo 3 and another Korean vessel, the Hong Jin 707, were able to help out. When the U.S. vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer arrives, Cuzens said, it is expected to initially treat the injured seamen and then put them ashore at the McMurdo Base for more extensive help.

The Jung Woo 2 is the second fishing vessel within weeks to get into trouble during the Antarctic summer fishing season.

On Dec. 16, the Russian vessel Sparta hit underwater ice which tore a 1-foot hole in the hull and left the 32 crew stranded for 10 days, until rescue boats could get to it and make temporary repairs. The Sparta limped into a New Zealand port earlier this week.

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