April 19, 2017 / 6:35 AM / 4 months ago

Eleven missing after ship sinks off Crimean coast - officials

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A cargo ship heading from Russia to Turkey sunk off the coast of Crimea early on Wednesday morning and 11 of the crew are missing, Crimea's emergency situations ministry said.

It said that the Panama-flagged vessel 'Geroi Arsenala' had sent an SOS signal when it was located 14 nautical miles off the Crimean coast.

The Interfax news agency cited Russian transport officials as saying that the ship, whose home port was reported to be Kherson in southern Ukraine, had broken in half during a strong storm and sunk.

At least six ships and a helicopter were engaged in a search and rescue operation, the emergency situations ministry said in a statement. Their task was complicated however by high winds and choppy waters.

Only one of the 12-person crew had been rescued so far, the ministry said, saying that the crew had been made up of nine Ukrainians, two Russians and one Georgian.

Preliminary information suggested the ship was en route from the southern Russian port of Azov to Turkey and that its cargo was grain, the ministry said.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe

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