Thursday, May 04, 2006
A cargo ship was breaking up off the Eastern Cape coast on Wednesday night and the crew had abandoned ship, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said. "It has been confirmed that all 33 crew on board the Alexandros T have abandoned ship using life rafts, and the bulk carrier Fortune Express is preparing to pick up the crew... "The Alexandros T, reported to be sailing from Brazil to China, has broken up and is sinking. Sea conditions are 4-to-5-metre swells with 45 knot winds," said Mark Hellenberg, a search and rescue co-ordinator at the NSRI.Late on Wednesday afternoon the 299m bulk carrier Alexandros T sent out a distress call, reporting that she was and taking in water "from unconfirmed reasons" over 300 nautical miles off Port Alfred on the Eastern Cape coast. The Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and the National Ports Authority were co-ordinating a joint rescue operation and the Salvage vessel Smit Amandla was dispatched. The nearest vessels to the scene responded to the distress call. A helicopter rescue team and an air force C-130 fixed wing aircraft were on alert, Lambinon said.