Friday, June 02, 2006
A Turkish-operated cargo ship sank on Thursday after colliding with a Greek tanker in the Aegean Sea and one Turkish sailor was killed, officials in Greece and Turkey said. Five sailors were missing from the Panamanian-flagged "Han" cargo ship, which was operated by a Turkish ship owner and had a crew of 13, a Turkish Chamber of Maritime Commerce official said. The cause of the collision was not immediately known, but the area is known for its heavy shipping traffic. The collision took place some 16 nautical miles southeast of the island of Hydra, about three hours by ferry from Athens. "All 11 members of the crew of the Greek tanker are safe and the tanker has also rescued seven crew members from the cargo ship, all of them Turks," a Greek Merchant Marine Ministry official said.Turkish chamber officials said the dead man was a Turkish sailor, but the Greek official said: "The nationality of the one dead and those missing are not known." The collision comes little more than a week after Greek and Turkish F-16 fighters collided over the southern Aegean, where the two NATO allies have long disputed control over airspace. The two countries, which have come to the brink of war in the past over territorial disputes in the region, gave starkly differing accounts of the air crash, but both hurried to limit damage to ties that have warmed markedly in the past six years. Each side blamed the other for last Tuesday's air collision, in which the Greek pilot died. Several rescue helicopters, three coastguard vessels and a Greek naval frigate as well as smaller private boats were scouring the waters off the island on Thursday to locate the missing crew members. The cargo ship, carrying steel, had left Turkey for the Moroccan port of Casablanca. The Greek ministry official said the crash had not caused any oil leak from either of the ships.