Two dead, three rescued from overturned vessel in nearly-freezing waters off Alaska coast

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(NEW YORK) — Two people have died and three people have been rescued from an overturned vessel in nearly-freezing waters off the coast of Alaska, officials say.

The United States Coast Guard and their partner agencies responded to a call for help to the overturned vessel near Chichagof Island in southern Alaska early Tuesday evening at approximately 4:48 p.m. local time, according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard following the incident.

Initial weather on scene was reported as “8-10 knot winds, 9 ft. seas, water temperature at 44 degrees, and air temperature at 31 degrees,” authorities said.

“An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crew from Air Station Sitka launched to respond arrived on scene at 5:15 p.m., and recovered the three people from the water at 5:50 p.m,” authorities said. “Coast Guard Cutters Douglas Denman (WPC 1149) and Kukui (WLB 203) and an HC-130 from Air Station Kodiak also responded Tuesday night, tracked the vessel’s drift, and searched the area near the overturned vessel for the two missing people. Air Station Sitka conducted additional searches Tuesday night and Wednesday mornings.”

After not being able to find the two missing passengers, officials say that the Sitka Fire Department arrived on scene with Alaska Wildlife Troopers on early Wednesday afternoon and deployed an uncrewed underwater drone to find the two deceased individuals in the cabin of the vessel.

“It was with a heavy heart that we received news about the two people inside the cabin from our Sitka Fire Department search partners,” said Coast Guard Capt. Darwin Jensen, commander of Sector Southeast Alaska. “We send our support and strength to the family members at this time and thank our partner agencies for their assistance in this case.”

Recovery operations of the deceased people will commence once on-scene conditions improve, according to officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, and their identities have not yet been made public.

The investigation into the incident is currently ongoing.

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