VIDEO: Cargo ship breaks in half and sinks during Black Sea storm
One crewmember has died, and another is reportedly in critical condition, after a cargo ship broke in half and sank during a severe storm in the Black Sea.
Russian officials confirmed that there were 11 crew operating the 108-metre vessel when it went down. The crew are all Russian nationals.
The Comoros-flagged 3,200DWT general cargo vessel Seamark was reportedly anchored off the city of Novorossiysk, when the storm hit on Tuesday morning (21 February 2023) local time. The weather system brought 40-knot winds and waves around three metres high.
Local media reports residents of Novorossiysk could hear a siren blasting from the offshore anchorage.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations says it sent a rescue boat to respond to the siren. By the time the boat arrived at the scene, Seamark had already buckled in half and was going under. The crew had abandoned ship, with rescuers finding some crew in the water and others aboard a life raft.
Russian officials said the fatality died from their injuries shortly after being brought on board the rescue boat. The other ten crew members were taken ashore for assessment and treatment.
No updates have yet been given on the condition of the critically injured sailor.
Regional outlet Наша Газета reports the sailors had been in the water for two hours before help arrived, and quotes one of the rescuers saying that at least one sailor had put their safety equipment on incorrectly.
Earlier this month, eyewitnesses captured video footage of a naval mine exploding on a beach along the coast of the Georgian city of Batumi, on the Black Sea coast.
Stray mines have become a threat in the region since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for dropping mines in the Black Sea. Experts say it will now take years to ‘de-mine’ the Black Sea.
Local reports have linked the Seamark to a company based in Dubai. AIS data shows the ship, which was understood to be carrying a cargo of marble chips, had departed Iskenderun in Turkey just one day before the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country and neighbouring Syria, leaving tens of thousands dead. It had been sitting at anchor off Novorossiysk since Wednesday (15 February 2023).
In 2021, a ship ‘snapped in half’ and sank off Turkey’s Black Sea coast while en route to Bulgaria. Up to four crew members are reported to have died in the tragic incident. Rescue workers reportedly saved at least six people and retrieved the bodies of two others.