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4 Dec, 2012 11:20

Four die, while 12 remain missing as cargo ship sinks near Turkey

One sailor and three rescuers have died during a rescue operation off Turkey’s Black Sea coast, where a cargo ship had capsized. Twelve people – nine crew members and three rescuers – are still unaccounted for.

The vessel went down in stormy waters near Sile, in the Istanbul province.The Volgo-Balt 199, a cargo ship, was carrying 33 tons of coal from Russia to Antalya. Radio contact with the crew was lost at around 10am local time. Reports differ on whether the crew sent out an SOS signal. Out of 12 crew members, 11 Russians and one Ukrainian, three sailors were reportedly saved, while one died on the way to hospital.A rescue operation is ongoing, but is being hindered by harsh weather conditions. The weather caused a lifesaver boat to hit a rock and sink 12 miles off the coast while searching for the crew, say Turkish media. Three rescuers died, while three more are missing. Another cargo ship, reportedly Russian, with 14 crew on board, had a mechanical failure and was also in danger of sinking in the same area. The crew reportedly lost control of the ship’s rudder, and the vessel was driven into the shoreline, local station NTV said. Turkish TV showed footage of a second ship also in difficulty amid the stormy conditions.Istanbul and nearby areas have been battered by strong winds and storms since Monday evening. Sporadic gusts reached speeds of 80 kilometers per hour, tearing off roofs and bringing down trees. Ferry services across the Bosporus Strait were suspended Tuesday due to the severe weather.