Ten fishermen stayed alive in their life raft by casting off the 'dead bodies' of eight crew mates who froze to death in raging seas.
By making the raft lighter they survived until being picked up by a cargo ship, the Anatoly Torchinov, it was claimed. Maritme expert Mikhail Voitenko described the circumstances as 'chilling' and said aspects of the accounts remain unclear. Pictured: sea of Japan in the search area, courtesy Rossiya 24 TV
'Eighteen people were on one life raft and eight of them died of hypothermia. The bodies of the dead were thrown over the side of the raft', said Natalya Salkina, a spokeswoman for regional transport investigators.
By making the raft lighter they survived until being picked up by a cargo ship, the Anatoly Torchinov, it was claimed.
Maritme expert Mikhail Voitenko described the circumstances as "chilling" and said aspects of the accounts remain unclear.
Seven men remain missing after the crab fishing vessel Chance-101 was hit by a freak wave in the Sea of Japan.
On board were a crew of 19 Russians and 11 Indonesians. Ten were rescued from one life raft, and five from another.
But Voitenko questions the accounts. 'How many people died on the raft from which rescuers plucked five sailors alive - were there six or eight of them? - is unclear.
'This story about throwing the dead bodies overboard - with most of them turning out to be Indonesian - sends shivers down the spine.
'To throw the bodies overboard can only be justified when the raft's air-tightness was destroyed, and the raft was sinking.'
The disaster struck at terrifying speed and the crew had no time to dress in emergency dry suits. They were fully exposed to bitter winds and sub-freezing temperatures during their ordeal. Picture: vesseltracker.com, via Maritime Bulletin
The rescued men suffered from frostbite, with two Indonesians the worst affected and described as being in a 'grave condition'.
The disaster struck at terrifying speed and the crew had no time to dress in emergency dry suits.
They were fully exposed to bitter winds and sub-freezing temperatures during their ordeal.
'They had no time to dress. They were practically naked,' said Yuri Shadrin, captain of one of the rescue vessels.
The boat went down with 19 tonnes of crabs, 20 tonnes of herring and 643 tonnes of diesel fuel.
Questions emerged over whether the Indonesians on the boat were working legally.
Air and sea searches went on throughout Monday and will be resumed on Tuesday.
Air and sea searches went on throughout Monday and will be resumed on Tuesday. Picture: Rossiya 24 TV
It was conducted by 'nine sea vessels as well as five helicopters and planes, including a Be-200 amphibious plane,' said a source.
'A total of 15,000 square kilometres of the Sea of Japan have been searched within the past 24 hours.'
It was reported that the fishing boat's captain Vladimir Pavlov was among the survivors.
Rescue services said no SOS was heard from the stricken boat.
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