Fire swept through a South Korean fishing ship near Antarctica early on Wednesday, killing three fishermen and leaving two others with severe burns.
Rescue coordinators said the outcome could have been worse had it not been for the assistance given by a nearby sister ship and another fishing vessel.
Thirty-seven crew members were rescued, including two unconscious men who had been severely burned and were hoisted off the flaming ship by crane. Five crew members suffered moderate burns.
The ship, the Jung Woo 2, got into trouble in the Ross Sea about 595 kilometres north of the US McMurdo Station Antarctic base.
It was continuing to burn today and appeared to be sinking, said Mike Roberts, the senior search and rescue officer with the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand.
A US research vessel, the Nathaniel B Palmer, was expected to reach the crew this evening.
Roberts said the US crew will treat the injured seamen, then put them ashore at McMurdo Base for more extensive help and possible evacuation to New Zealand.
New Zealand authorities are helping to coordinate the rescue but are not at the scene.
Roberts said the fire appears to have started in the living quarters of the 51-metre Jung Woo 2 before it quickly spread to the engine room and the ship's fish processing plant.
It raged out of control, he said, with the crew's firefighting teams unable to halt its progress.
Roberts said a distress call was sent a little before 3 am New Zealand time.