Saturday, December 19, 2009
Rescue workers combed the stormy waters off Lebanon yesterday after a cargo ship capsized, killing at least four crewmembers and leaving dozens missing. The Panamanian-flagged cargo ship carrying livestock went down Thursday in heavy rain. The Lebanese army said in a statement that about 40 people were still missing. Of the 83 crewmembers on board, 38 were rescued and four bodies were retrieved. The crew members were from Britain, Australia, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uruguay, the state-run National News Agency reported. Nicola Dazies, a political officer at the British Embassy confirmed there were two British citizens on the ship. Their fate is still unknown, she said. Dazies added that a British consular team was working with the Lebanese authorities on this matter.Rescue operations were continuing despite high waves. Red Cross workers helped several dazed survivors, covered in woolen blankets, into ambulances Friday; one man, unable to walk, grimaced as a rescue worker carried him over his shoulder. The rescue effort was being carried out by the Lebanese navy, UN peacekeeping force, two civilian ships and two British helicopters from Cyprus. The ship was believed to have been sailing from Uruguay to Syria, carrying thousands of sheep and other livestock. It went down Thursday afternoon some 17 km from the Lebanese port city of Tripoli. Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, identified the vessel as the Danny F II. Last week, a freighter heading to an Israeli port sank in stormy weather in international waters near the Lebanese coast. Six of its 12 crew members were rescued. That ship was headed from Greece to the northern Israeli port of Haifa.