Rescue bid in Black Sea as ship splits in two


A cargo ship with 12 people on board has gone down in heavy seas in the Kerch Strait off the Russian Black Sea coast.

Rescue crews reached the scene early on Wednesday and officials said one person was pulled to safety. Two bodies were found and nine crew were missing.

Russia's marine agency said the 3,500-tonne Geroi Arsenala split in two and sank at about 03:40 (00:40 GMT).

The high winds hampered the search for survivors, reports said.

The Panamanian-registered ship went down around 19 nautical miles (35km) south of the Taman Peninsula.

Nine of those on board were Ukrainian, two were Russians and one was Georgian, officials said. The ship was carrying grain from the Russian port of Azov to Turkey and officials said oil from the ship had spilt into the sea.

Russian emergency ministry officials said initially that three crew members had been saved but later it emerged that only one had been pulled from the water.

Four others were spotted in life jackets but rescuers were unable to find them in the high waves and strong winds, a spokesman told Interfax news agency. Some 200 people were taking part in the search by air and sea, Tass reported.

Russia is currently building a bridge over the Kerch Strait to Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

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