One person has died and four are missing after a British cargo ship sank off the coast of Germany following a collision in the North Sea.
Two vessels – the British-flagged Verity and the Bahamas-flagged Polesie – collided at about 5am on Tuesday about 13 miles south-west of the island of Helgoland, Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) said. The Verity sank, according to reports.
Seven people were onboard the Verity. Two were rescued and were receiving medical treatment and the body of another was recovered, the CCME said, adding that the search continued for the four missing people, Reuters reported.
The CCME said the Verity had been travelling from Bremen to the port of Immingham in north-east Lincolnshire.
The Polesie, which is said to have been travelling from Hamburg to La Coruña in Spain, remained afloat with 22 people onboard. It belongs to a Polish shipping company, Polsteam.
Several ships were searching for survivors in the area, the CCME added.
Krzysztof Gogol, a spokesperson for Polsteam, said the Polesie’s crew were uninjured and in “good physical condition”.
Shortly after the collision, the Polesie stopped and took part in the search and rescue operation, Gogol said, adding that the vessel “took onboard one of the crew members of the Verity, a Filipino sailor”.
A search by divers looking for signs of life on the Verity was “unable to gain any information” before the search was suspended due to strong currents, the CCME said later. Conditions were “very difficult” around the shipwreck with visibility of only one to two metres, it said.
Earlier a spokesperson had said that the four missing crew may be alive and sheltering inside the vessel on the sea floor, during a press conference alongside the German maritime search and rescue service.
The Verity was carrying steel and had 1,300 cubic metres of diesel onboard, the spokesperson added.
Germany’s transport minister, Volker Wissing, said earlier: “The emergency services are doing everything they can to rescue the missing people. My thoughts are with the crew members, their relatives and the rescue teams who have been in action since early this morning.”
The Verity was the smaller vessel, with a length of 91 metres (almost 300ft), compared with the Polesie’s 190 metres.
Two rescue cruisers, an emergency tug, a pilot boat, a police patrol boat and a helicopter were helping with the search, initial reports said.
The P&O cruise ship Iona, which left Southampton three days ago for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges, reportedly joined the search for survivors. The emergency command said that those involved in the collision could receive medical care onboard the cruise ship.
It also said it had a sensor aircraft flying over the sea to obtain more information on the whereabouts of the Verity.
The search was reportedly being hampered by 30mph winds and 10ft waves.
A P&O Cruises spokesperson said: “P&O Cruises Iona is currently involved in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Germany. The incident is ongoing and Iona’s cooperation complies with international maritime law as well as being consistent with the company’s moral and legal obligations.
“Iona is scheduled to be at sea today and this event should have no impact upon tomorrow’s scheduled call to Rotterdam or the onward itinerary.”
Source : The Guardian