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Crew Of Sinking Russian Ship Awaiting Supply Plane

Crew members aboard a Russian fishing boat that is sinking near Antarctica are awaiting the arrival of a New Zealand Air Force plane, which is expected to drop them equipment and supplies later on December 17.

The vessel, called the "Sparta" and with 32 crew members on board, is suspected of having hit underwater ice on December 16, tearing a 30-centimeter hole in its hull and causing it to list at 13 degrees.

Maritime New Zealand, which is coordinating rescue attempts, said that the crew has succeeded in pumping water from the vessel and moved cargo, making the boat safer and more stable.

The agency said crew members who had boarded life rafts had now returned to the ship, and were awaiting the arrival of the supply plane.

Emergency officials have said it may still take three to four days for a rescue ship to reach the "Sparta," as thick ice is making movement in the area difficult.

Officials have said the crew consists of 15 Russians, 16 Indonesians and one Ukrainian.

compiled from agency reports

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