North Sea search called off

A Dutch coast guard vessel searching for survivors.

NETHERLANDS — The Dutch coast guard has found a fifth body following the sinking of the Baltic Ace cargo ship in the North Sea.

Thirteen people were rescued yesterday, but six more of the ship’s 24-man crew remain missing following the collision with a container ship.

A spokesman said the chance of finding anyone alive was “virtually zero” and the search has been called off.

The accident took place off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands, after the Baltic Ace sailed from Zeebrugge.

The search for the missing crew resumed at dawn. The coast guard said a helicopter crew saw the lifeless body of one man floating in the water.

Spokesman Peter Westenberg said three boats from the Royal Dutch Sea Rescue Organisation, two navy vessels, four helicopters and one coast guard aircraft had been used in the rescue. Strong winds and high seas made search conditions difficult.

The Polish embassy in the Netherlands has said that 11 of the 24 crew were from Poland. Six of them, including the captain, have been rescued.

The rest of the crew came from the Philippines, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

The 148-metre Baltic Ace was sailing under a Bahamas flag and carrying cars from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Kotka in Finland.

Its 24 crew abandoned ship as it sank quickly after colliding with the Cyprus-registered container ship, the Corvus J, sailing from Grangemouth in Scotland to the Belgian port of Antwerp.

The 134-metre Corvus J is said to be damaged but not in danger of sinking. All 12 crew members are still on board. (BBC)

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