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Several dead as freight ship sinks off Turkey’s Black Sea coast

ANKARA, Turkey: A Palau-flagged freight ship has sunk off the coast of Turkey’s Black Sea province of Bartin, killing at least three crew members, according to Bartin Governor Sinan Guner.

Guner had said earlier on Sunday that the ship, the Arvin, was a Russian dry freight vessel that sank off the coast of the Inkumu region in poor weather, but later corrected that.

“The Arvin ship attempted to take refuge at the Bartin port due to poor weather conditions as it carried cargo from Georgia to Bulgaria,” Guner was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

The coastguard said the ship had sunk after taking in water amid poor weather.

Six crew members had been rescued and efforts were underway to rescue others, it said in a statement. Anadolu said that all of them were hospitalised and were in good condition.

The Russian state agency overseeing sea and river fleets said that only two crew members were Russian nationals and that the vessel belonged to the Ukrainian company, Arvin Shipping Ltd.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry confirmed the incident, saying Ukrainian consuls were providing consular assistance on-site as operations to find four remaining sailors continued.

Guner said earlier that civilian ships had also been asked to help with the rescue effort, but that operation was hindered by heavy rain and winds. The Turkish defence ministry said it had also sent a vessel to help with the rescue operations.

“There are high waves, and because of the waves, the (rescue) boat can’t see its surroundings. We are trying to reach them with directions from the shore,” Guner was cited as saying.

In January 2019, six crew members died when a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship sank in the Black Sea off Turkey.

Two years earlier, a Russian spy vessel sank in the Black Sea after colliding with a cargo ship carrying cattle. All crew were rescued.