BREAKING The Netherlands - North Sea collision kills four after cargo carrier hits container ship, 7 people are still missing.
North Sea collision kills four after cargo carrier hits container ship
11 of 24 crew members picked up by helicopters and boats as rescuers use infrared cameras to hunt for the seven missing
Four crew members are reported to have died and another seven are still missing after a cargo ship collided with a container ship in the North Sea.
The Dutch coastguard said that the car carrier vessel Baltic Ace sank shortly after the accident, which happened in a shipping lane around 30 miles from the port of Rotterdam. A major air and sea operation was launched to rescue the 24 crew members aboard the ship which collided with the container ship Corvus J at around 7pm yesterday.
"We can confirm that four bodies have been found, along with 13 people rescued alive," said Coast Guard spokesman Marcel Oldenburger.
Crew members were found on four life rafts and were pulled to safety by two helicopters and three lifeboats which were dispatched to the scene.
The 148m (485ft) ship collided with the 134m (440ft) container ship near busy shipping lanes off the Dutch coast.
Sailors on the Baltic Ace, which was carrying a cargo of cars, were forced to abandon ship as it sank quickly.
"We have found liferafts, and the people in them are being picked up by helicopters," another coastguard spokesman Peter Verburg said.
He 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," Verburg said of the ship.
The coastguard spokesman said the cause of the collision was not known. "At the moment we are solely focused on getting the people to safety," Vergurg said.
By around 9pm, 11 crew members had been rescued by helicopters and two more by ships, the coastguard said. Rescuers were using infrared cameras to hunt for the missing seven.
"We still hope to find them," Kees Brinkman, a spokesman for 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.
In a statement, the Dutch defence ministry said two navy patrol ships were helping in the search. "Helicopters are trying, in strong wind and high waves, to bring the people to safety," the ministry said.
Four of the survivors were flown to a hospital in Rotterdam and seven to an airbase in Belgium.
The Baltic Ace was heading from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to Kotka in Finland and the Corvus J was on its way from Grangemouth in Scotland to Antwerp, Belgium.
A small change at one place in a complex system, can have large effects elswhere..