Skip to main content

3 dead, 3 missing after South Korean boat sinks in New Zealand

By Mila Sanina, CNN
  • The boat had 51 people onboard
  • Rescuers save 45 crew members
  • Most of the crew members are Indonesians

(CNN) -- Three people died and three others were missing after a South Korean fishing boat sank Wednesday morning in the waters off New Zealand, officials said.

The boat had 51 people onboard when it sank 400 miles east of Dunedin city.

The Rescue and Coordination Center of New Zealand rescued 45 crew members and recovered the three bodies, said Sophie Hazelhurst, the agency's spokeswoman.

Most of the crew members, including the fatalities, were Indonesians.

The rescue team has halted search operations.

"A survival time in these waters is very short," Hazelhurst said. "For 12 hours, we have searched for the three missing men; the chance of their survival is extremely low. We have searched longer than a person could possibly survive in such temperature."

The rescue center said the survival of so many people is "incredible" given the boat sank in just 10 minutes.

Officials said it was unclear why the 1,599-ton Oyang 70 sank so quickly.

An investigation will follow.