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Winds hamper rescue of stranded Alaska fishing crew

  • Story Highlights
  • Fishing vessel ran aground off the coast of Alaska's Akutan Island
  • U.S. Coast Guard having trouble getting to stranded four-man crew
  • Hurricane-force winds hampering Coast Guard's attempts
  • Coast Guard: Boat in danger of breaking up
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(CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday was trying to reach the stranded four-man crew of an Alaska-based fishing vessel that ran aground in strong winds in the Bering Sea.

The 58-foot "Icy Mist" is taking on water after running aground off the coast of Alaska's remote Akutan Island, part of the Aleutian Islands, according to the Coast Guard.

Hurricane-force winds up to 90 mph (145 kph) are hampering the rescue operation, which involves a Coast Guard cutter and a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The strong winds have delayed the arrival of several helicopters to help rescue the skipper and crew, said Petty Officer Walter Shinn, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The situation is too dangerous for the C-130 to drop a life raft, he explained.

"They're up against the rocky shoreline, so it's really risky right now to drop survival gear," Shinn said. "The water could come and wash them away."

The damaged boat is in danger of breaking up, according to the Coast Guard, which has had intermittent contact with the stranded vessel.

"We aren't really certain ... if anyone's injured," Shinn said. "We don't know."

It is unclear if there was an advisory warning ships to avoid the weather, which is severe -- even for the Bering Sea -- according to Shinn.

The ship's owner, Bob Gunderson, said he was unaware of the situation but was confident that it was his boat. He said the skipper and three crew members were fishing for Pacific cod.

The Coast Guard received an initial mayday call from the vessel around 4:40 a.m. Alaska time (12:40 a.m. ET).

All About AlaskaBering SeaU.S. Coast Guard

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