A Russian trades union reports that two crew have died aboard the icebreaking cargo ship Vasiliy Golovnin during a voyage between Antarctica and South Africa.
"The ship’s operator, Fesco, informed us of the deaths while Vasiliy Golovnin was sailing to South Africa," the report says. "The reasons behind the deaths are, as yet, unknown."
According to Fesco, "the deaths were caused by an accident not related to the performance of their professional duties or weather factors".
The vessel is still en-route to Cape Town, and a full investigation will begin once it arrives.
At the time of the incident, Vasiliy Golovnin was on its way way back to South Africa after a three-month charter to deliver cargo and fuel to two Indian Antarctic research stations.
It departed Cape Town in January with 1,000 tons of cargo and a new delegation of Indian scientists.
Reports say the re-supply mission was unusually challenging with poor weather and ice conditions, and that Vasiliy Golovnin had difficulty getting free of the ice pack on her return voyage.
The Soviet-built Vasiliy Golovnin is a diesel-electric icebreaking container feeder.
It has a capacity of 300 TEU and is equipped with multiple cargo cranes and a helipad.
Vasiliy Golovnin is also capable of deploying self-propelled landing barges for delivering goods to unimproved sites.