Seven sailors missing after cargo and container ships collide in the North Sea are ‘almost certainly dead’

December 6th, 20127:06 am @

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  • Massive air and sea rescue operation has been called off
  • Coastguards say: ‘The chance of finding anyone alive now is virtually zero’

By
Leon Watson

19:46, 5 December 2012


|

05:25, 6 December 2012

Seven sailors missing in the icy North Sea after a cargo ship collided with another vessel and sank off the Dutch coast are almost certainly dead, rescuers said today.

A massive air and sea rescue operation involving several helicopters, two navy patrol ships and even one of the ships involved in yesterday’s collision, which killed four cargo ship crew members, was called off at about 2am.

Coastguard chiefs said they would decide at daylight whether to continue the search.

Collision: Four members of the crew of the Baltic Ace have died after the vessel collided with a container ship in the North Sea. A further seven are still missing (file picture)

The condition of the Corvus J was unknown but it is understood the vessel was not in immediate danger following the incident. It is understood the 12-man crew were all still on board

Coastguard spokesman Peter Verburg said ‘the chance of finding anyone alive now is virtually zero’.

‘We are doing all we can, but time is overtaking us,’ he said.

Four bodies were recovered and 13 people rescued.

The 485ft Baltic Ace collided with the
440ft container ship Corvus J, heading from Scotland to Belgium, in
darkness near busy shipping lanes 40 miles off the coast of the southern
Netherlands. The Baltic Ace, carrying a cargo of cars, had a crew of 24
which was forced to abandon ship as it sank quickly.

By around 10pm (9pm GMT), 11 crew
members had been rescued by helicopters and two more by ships, the
coastguard said. Rescuers were using infrared cameras to hunt for more
survivors.

Accident: The collision involving the two ships happened around 40 miles off the Dutch port of Rotterdam

‘We still hope to find them,’ Kees
Brinkman, a spokesman for the rescuers, told Dutch television nearly
four hours after the collision. But, he added: ‘Their chances of
survival are shrinking’ if they are in the water.

The Dutch Defence Ministry said two
navy patrol ships were aiding the search. ‘Helicopters are trying, in
(strong wind) and high waves to bring the people to safety,’ it said.

Mr Verburg said the 12-man crew of the
Corvus J was still on board the ship, which was helping in the rescue
operation. ‘It is badly damaged, but not in danger of sinking,’ Mr
Verburg said.

Four of the survivors were being flown to a hospital in Rotterdam and seven to an air base in Belgium.

The Baltic Ace, sailing under a
Bahamas flag, was heading from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to Kotka in
Finland, and the Cyprus-registered Corvus J was on its way from
Grangemouth, Scotland to Antwerp.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

These People will be in my prayers tonight! hope they all get rescued safe and well xxxxx

me
,

here,
05/12/2012 23:21

The seas can be a truly unpredictable cruel place! I hope all involved have a safe passage home!

chlo
,

uk,
05/12/2012 23:17

BigG, Glasgow – Ships can’t always steer around the problem. After Herald of Free Enterprise sank, I believe it was hit by another vessel (or was it two?) before it was re-floated.

Bill
,

Merseyside,
05/12/2012 23:06

Alan Smith Check out marinetraffic.com A very useful site that I didn’t know existed. It shows just how busy this section of the seas are.

Bill
,

Merseyside,
05/12/2012 23:03

@bigG – there are shipping lanes for a reason! The North Sea (apart from being one of the busiest regionsof water on the planet) is littered with oil rigs, drill ships, FPSOs, wrecks, windmill farms, pipelines etc. It’s not like diverting someone off the M6! Read a little before commenting!

MrsC888
,

Aberdeenshire,
05/12/2012 22:54

Actually, bigG, the colission happened about 15 km outside the main chanel. There is no disruption, but MO needs to hype it up. There are 3 dead, 6 still missing.

jkvo
,

Sarnia Canada,
05/12/2012 22:44

Currently being reported on Dutch newssite 3 dead and 11 unknown.

GJK
,

Bristol, GJK,
05/12/2012 22:44

I hope they are all rescued and get home safely.

jaydesullivan@googlemail.com
,

oliver86,
05/12/2012 22:15

It is not a nice night to be in the water in the North Sea, good luck to those in the search and those on both vessels. Lets hope everyone is got home safely to thier families.

Bert
,

Belfast, United Kingdom,
05/12/2012 22:01

How do big ships collide, let’s hope it’s not human error especially sleeping on duty. Lets hope everyone is rescued alive

Gunzxs
,

London,
05/12/2012 21:56

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