By JERUSALEM POST STAFFPublished: DECEMBER 18, 2009 11:41Advertisement
Rescue workers searched the stormy waters off Lebanon on Friday after a cargo ship sank, killing at least 11 people and leaving dozens missing.
The Panamanian-flagged cargo ship carrying 83 crew members and thousands of sheep and other livestock went down Thursday in heavy rain.
An Associated Press reporter saw 11 bodies brought to shore in body bags since Thursday.
A senior Lebanese army officer said 39 people had been rescued, but 33 were still missing. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
The crew members were from Britain, Australia, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uruguay, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The ship was believed to have been sailing from Uruguay to Syria. It went down Thursday afternoon some 17 kilometers from the Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
Nicola Dazies, a political officer at the British Embassy, confirmed there were two British citizens on the ship. Their fate was still unknown, she said.
Rescue operations continued Friday despite high waves. Red Cross workers helped several dazed survivors, wrapped in woolen blankets, into ambulances Friday. One man, unable to walk, grimaced as a rescue worker carried him over his shoulder.
One of the Pakistani crew members, Ahmad Khan, said that before the vessel sank the crew felt it shake. The captain then instructed the crew to put on life vests and jump into the water, from where they watched the ship go under, he said.
The rescue effort was being carried out by the Lebanese navy, a UN peacekeeping force, two civilian ships and two British helicopters from Cyprus.
The UNIFIL peacekeeping force said survivors were being given medical treatment on board its Maritime Task Force ships before being transported ashore in Lebanon.
"This is a very tragic incident and our UNIFIL Maritime Task Force peacekeepers are doing their utmost to save the lives of the victims," UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Claudio Graziano said. "We hope that our joint efforts with the Lebanese navy will help minimize the number of casualties."
Andrea Tenenti, a UNIFIL spokesman, identified the vessel as the Danny F II.
Last week, a freighter heading to the Haifa port sank in stormy weather in international waters near the Lebanese coast. Six of its 12 crew members were rescued. That ship was headed from Greece to Haifa.
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