Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Dutch and Belgian air sea rescue and coastguard have recovered five bodies and have given up hope of finding survivors among the six crew members still missing from the sinking of the Baltic Ace.A Dutch aircraft and two helicopters, including a Belgian Seaking, continued the search for the missing men on Thursday morning.
“With these temperatures the average survival time in the water is half an hour,” said Colonel Peter Van den Broucke of the Belgian air force
The rescue operation was resumed after it was called off at 02.00am CET today, over six hours after the collision between the Baltic Ace car carrier cargo ship and the Corvus J, a container vessel.
Human error has been blamed for the collision between the two vessels which led to the sinking of the Baltic Ace, a Bahamas flagged ship, with a crew of 24 Polish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and Filipino sailors.
Five Poles are among the 11 dead or missing crew members. The 13 survivors were all said to be suffering from hypothermia after being plucked from freezing 11-foot waves by Dutch and Belgian rescuers.
Janusz Wolosz, second secretary at the Polish embassy in The Hague, told AFP that 11 of the 24 crew were Polish, of whom six have been saved, including the captain.
Four Poles including, the captain, have been taken to hospital in Belgium, another to a hospital in Rotterdam and the sixth is being treated on a rescue ship.
None of the 12 crew on board the Corvus J, which was sailing from Scotlandﾒs Grangemouth to Antwerp, were injured and the vessel left the scene of the collision under its own power after assisting rescuers.
The Baltic Ace was carrying 1400 cars, most of them Mitsubishis from Japan and Thailand, from Zeebrugge to Kotka in Finland.
The ship’s managing company has suggested that human error was to blame for the sinking which was in international waters, sparking a debate over the authority with the jurisdiction to investigate which vessels failed to spot the other in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
“This incident took place out of our territorial waters,” said Jos Klaren, a spokesman for the Dutch police.
“We are discussing with the prosecutor’s office whether it is part of our jurisdiction.”
The collision took place 35 nautical miles (40 miles) off the Dutch Zeeland coast, the Baltic Ace cargo freighter sank almost immediately.
The wreck, which is not in deep water, on the intersection of two busy shipping routes is currently patrolled by a Dutch coastguard ship to warn other vessels.
There are around 24 serious incidents in the Rotterdam North Sea area every year, the Dutch national news agency ANP reported, around half of them collisions.
A Dutch fishing boat in April 2005 netted a Second World War bomb that killed three fishermen when it exploded on board their vessel.
In November 1994 a bulk carrier hit the trawler Larissa in the busy Dutch shipping route, killing six crew and the captain.
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