Moscow: The bodies of 16 crew from a sunken oil rig were found on Monday off Russia's far eastern Sakhalin island as searches for survivors went into a second day as fears mounted that another 37 missing would be dead.

"Sixteen bodies have been found since the start of the operation," the federal sea and river agency said in a statement, adding that seven bodies have been pulled out of the water.

Regional spokeswoman for transport prosecutors, Natalia Salkina, citing her own information, put the number of the bodies located in the searches at 14.

A jack-up oil rig, the Kolskaya, with 67 people on board was being towed from the Kamchatka peninsula across the sea towards Sakhalin island when it got caught up in a storm, capsized and sank within 20 minutes on Sunday.

Fourteen crew members were rescued on Monday and another four people in wetsuits were located in the water showing no signs of life. Rescue workers were unable to pull them out until Monday.

Emergency authorities have refused to presume the missing dead and stubbornly clung to hopes that more crew members could be found alive even after spending hours in the frigid waters of the Okhotsk Sea.

"We are hoping for a miracle," Salkina said from the far eastern city of Khabarovsk.

The rescue operation was continuing through the night even though efforts were hampered by strong winds and waves around 15 feet high.

A Mi-8 helicopter, the Magadan icebreaker and two more vessels were involved in the searches.

Earlier in the day a plane found two empty rafts at the site of the accident, Alexander Ivelsky, Emergencies Ministry Spokesman from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, told a news agency.

(Agencies)