Rescue vessels and a helicopter are searching for five people missing in a fierce storm off Russia's east coast after a Cambodia-flagged ship sank early Sunday.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a statement that it has recovered three bodies from the icy waters of the La Perouse Strait, which lies between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.
The accident took place in the same waters in which a Russian floating oil rig capsized and sank last Sunday killing 17 people. Thirty-six people are still missing, feared dead.
Officials said five of the Cambodia-flagged ship's crew were Russian, and the others are Indonesian. Two of the dead have been identified as Russian nationals, and one remains unidentified.
The ship, named Ginga, was sailing through the Russian waters from a Japanese port. Russian news agencies reported that it was a fishing boat.
Emergencies Ministry representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Two trawlers, a Russian helicopter, a rescue vessel, two steamboats and a Japanese maritime safety department ship were conducting the search. Efforts were hampered by strong winds and meters-high waves.
Nikolay Sukhanov, a top official from Russia's Sailors Union, told RIA Novosti that he thought that the size of the crew, its flag and route could suggest that the ship was poaching in the waters on the Russian-Japanese maritime border.