In the Sea of Japan part of a keel is the only visible evidence of a ship in which at least eight fishermen have died while seven are believed to be missing. It was reported the 640 ton vessel may have been hit by a freak wave and capsized.
Fifteen of the 30 strong crew have been plucked to safety. Survivors, many of whom were suffering from frostbite claim eight of the colleagues died of hypothermia and were dumped at sea from the lifeboat in which they had escaped the doomed trawler.
Four Indonesians were among those rescued while the Russian captain was also picked up and brought ashore.
“When it happened the captain did not send any SOS signal, and nobody was aware of what had happened to us. On the second night quite by chance we saw a passing ship. We had rocket signals and smoke bombs but they were not working,” explained crewman Andrei Yevdokimov.
Initial reports state the trawler, the Shans 101 which was built in South Korea in 1988, did have an emergency beacon, but it was not functional.
The search operation including nine ships and five aircraft is covering 15,000 square kilometres of the Sea of Japan.