5 crew members feared dead after Alaska fishing boat sinks

JUNEAU (AP) — Five fishermen missing after a crab boat sank in the frigid waters off Alaska were feared dead after authorities called off a search for those working in the one of the most dangerous industries in the United States (US).

Two other crew members were rescued after the disaster, telling authorities they were the only ones who made it into a life raft, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Coast Guard said it used helicopters, planes and a boat to look for the missing crew members for 20 hours before ending the search because they were not likely to have survived.

The agency did not release any details on Thursday on what caused the boat to sink, saying that talking to the survivors is part of the investigation.

The boat, named the Scandies Rose, was carrying a load of crabbing pots for the start of the winter season.

Crabbing boats endure perilous conditions in Alaska waters that have been immortalised in Deadliest Catch. Workers face dangers like huge waves, harsh weather and massive crab pots that could crush them.

The boat was travelling in an area with warnings about strong winds and heavy freezing spray, said Louise Fode, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The boat sent a mayday distress call, and the Coast Guard launched a rescue. The vessel’s last known position was 270 kilometres southwest of Kodiak Island, near the southern tip of Alaska, and it sank at about 10pm on Tuesday, the agency said.

Rescuers saw a faint light in one life raft, but a medic lowered from a helicopter found it empty, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Another faint light was spotted about one kilometre away, where searchers found the two survivors.

The Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial in Seattle where items left included a ball cap with the name of the crab fishing boat Scandies Rose. PHOTO: AP