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Search abandoned for missing Antarctic fishing vessel

Published on Apr 1, 2014 11:07 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - The search for a fishing boat missing near Antarctica was called off on Tuesday, with officials saying there was no chance anyone aboard had survived in the harsh polar environment.

The 75-metre vessel issued a distress signal early on Sunday which showed it was in the southern Indian Ocean about 650 kilometres north of the Antarctic mainland, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

An Australian air force P3 Orion plane and a civil aircraft were sent to find the boat, which is suspected of being involved in illegal fishing, but they spotted only debris in the area where the distress beacon was activated, with no signs of a life raft or people in the water.

"Based on medical advice... in the current weather conditions there is no chance of survival," AMSA said, calling off the search in the iceberg-studded waters.

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