Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Eight Sailors and two rescue divers were killed when a North Korean-registered cargo ship broke up and sank in heavy storms off the Algerian coast, state radio said on Tuesday. Rescue services and coast guard officials aided by helicopters rescued 14 of the 22-member crew of the Lujin II, after the 121-metre (397 ft) vessel hit a reef. It had been heading to the port of Bejaia 250 km (155 miles) east of Algiers. The survivors, from Romania, Lebanon and Syria, have been taken to local hospitals in the region. Two Algerians died in the rescue operation. The ship's main engine stalled and began drifting early on Monday when it was hit by storms and 8-metre-high (26 ft) waves in the Mediterranean sea near Algeria's 335,000-barrels-per-day oil refinery port Skikda. The Lujin II was transporting 5,618 tonnes of timber and sodium chloride, the official APS news agency said. The Algerian authorities said the breakup of the ship had caused no environmental damage. The incident comes a few months after about 20 sailors died when a ship sank in severe storms just off Algiers' port. The authorities have pledged to boost surveillance and the capability of the rescue services equipment the 1,200 km (746 miles) coastline.