Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 6, 2012

Search for 6 bodies in Dutch shipping accident

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Rescuers gave up hope of finding any more survivors from a cargo ship that sank in the frigid North Sea off the Dutch coast, saying Thursday they are searching for the bodies of six crewmen still missing. That brings the presumed death toll to 11.

Search planes, helicopters and ships resumed the search that was called off in the early hours, but the icy conditions made survival virtually impossible.

"Given the water temperature and the amount of time that's passed, we don't have any hope for more survivors," Peter Westenburg of the Dutch Coast Guard said. Four bodies were found Wednesday, and 13 survivors were rescued. A fifth body was found and retrieved Thursday by a Belgian government helicopter.

The 148-meter (485-foot) Baltic Ace sank after colliding with the 134-meter (440-foot) container ship Corvus J in darkness near busy shipping lanes some 65 kilometers (40 miles) off the coast of the southern Netherlands. The cause of the collision is not known.

The Dutch waterways agency said it has sent two vessels to the spot to help guide traffic and to lay buoys around the area of the sunken wreck. One is using sonar equipment to establish exactly how deep and where it lies on the seabed.

The agency said it is in contact with the ship's owner about possible salvage operations.

The Baltic Ace, carrying a cargo of cars, sank quickly as its crew of 24 tried to abandon ship.

Dutch police have identified the five victims whose bodies have been found as two Poles, aged 47 and 50; two Filipinos aged 30 and 51; and a 47-year-old Ukrainian.

Four of the survivors were flown to a hospital in Rotterdam and seven to a military hospital in Belgium. All are expected to recover. The location of the other two survivors was unclear.

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