Water flooding into the engine compartment caused the Russian trawler to founder

More than 50 sailors have been killed after a Russian trawler sank off Kamchatka in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

One hundred and thirty two people were aboard Dalny Vostok when it foundered in just 15 minutes in the Sea of Okhotsk.

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It’s not yet known what caused the trawler to sink but media reports suggest that water flooded the engine compartment after a possible impact.

The BBC reports that emergency services believe drifting ice may have holed the trawler.

Meanwhile, Tass news agency claims some officials think the boat may have sunk while trawling a 100-tonne dragnet.

A total of 54 sailors have been confirmed dead, while 15 still remain missing.

So far, sixty-three people have been rescued from the Sea of Okhotsk, many of them suffering from hypothermia.

The crews of more than 20 fishing boats helped pull survivors from the water, with emergency services saying 1,300 people were involved in the rescue operation.

An Mi-8 helicopter with rescuers and doctors onboard was sent to give medical assistance and transport casualties to hospital.

Seventy-eight of the crew members were Russian, while 42 were from Myanmar and the rest from Latvia, Vanuatu and Ukraine.