Ship and rescue boat sink off Istanbul; 3 dead

December 4, 2012 - 12:33 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A cargo ship sank in a severe storm Tuesday in the Black Sea and a rescue boat searching for its missing crew hit nearby rocks and also went down. At least three people were killed and 10 others were missing in the two sinkings, officials said.

The St. Kitts and Nevis-flagged ship, Volgo Balt 199, with 11 Ukrainian and one Russian crew members aboard, was sailing to the Turkish port of Antalya from Russia when it sank off the coast of Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The vessel was carrying coal.

Search and rescue teams saved four members of the cargo ship, recovered one body and were searching for seven other crewmen when one of the rescue boats hit rocks and also sank, killing two of the rescuers, Turkey's Transport Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters. Three other rescue team members were also missing.

Tug boats, meanwhile, were dispatched to try and help a second cargo ship that was in danger of being overturned by high waves further west off the coast of Istanbul.

Private NTV television footage showed that ship — the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged BBC Adriatic with 14 crew members — being battered in the stormy waters.

"The sea conditions are very rough, which is making the rescue operation very difficult," Salih Orakci, who heads Turkey's Coastal Safety authority, told NTV television. "(But) God willing, we will save that ship."

Orakci said the Volgo Balt 199 had not sent any distress signal and disappeared off the radar on Tuesday.