SEVEN fishermen badly burnt in a fire that swept through a Korean fishing boat in the Southern Ocean will be flown to Christchurch for treatment.
The men are among 37 rescued off the burning fishing boat, which issued a mayday call from the Ross Sea near Antarctica in the early hours of Wednesday.
Three Vietnamese sailors are missing, presumed dead, after the fire ripped through the accommodation block of the 51 metre Jeong Woo 2 while the crew was sleeping.
The ship is still burning and her sister ship, the Jeong Woo 3, plans to tow her outside Antarctic waters to minimise any potential effect on the environment.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand says a US Air Force C17 Globemaster will leave Christchurch on Thursday night for the US Antarctic base McMurdo Station, where the injured men are due to arrive on US research vessel Nathaniel B Palmer on Friday morning.
Three of the crew – two Vietnamese and one Indonesian – are seriously injured with second and third degree burns. Two of them have burns to 30 and 50 per cent of their bodies respectively.
The remaining four injured crew – two Vietnamese and two Indonesians – are reportedly in good spirits and can move around.
Meanwhile, the remaining 30 surviving crew are all on board the Jeong Woo 2’s sister ship, the Jeong Woo 3.
It will be met by Korean ice-breaker the Aaron, which will collect the crew and take them to Lyttelton, arriving on January 19.
Jeong Woo 2, owned by the Korean-owned Sunwoo Corporation, was fishing for Patagonian Toothfish, rays and crabs in the Antarctic Ocean.