A tragic incident unfolded off the Greek island of Lesbos as a cargo ship sank amid gale-force winds, resulting in the loss of one life while 12 individuals remain unaccounted for.
One crew member from the vessel, named the Raptor, was airlifted to the hospital by a navy helicopter, the coastguard said, describing him as “in a state of shock.”
Greece launched a search and rescue operation on Sunday to find the remaining 12 crewmembers.
However, two helicopters had to call off the search in the evening as conditions became too dark.
What do we know about the incident?
The Comoros-registered freighter sent out a distress signal due to a mechanical failure at 7.00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Sunday.
Around an hour later, the captain reported that the vessel was listing, and activated the “mayday” distress signal before disappearing from the radar, AFP news agency reported, citing local officials.
The heavily-laden vessel was believed to have taken on water in the hold due to strong waves, causing it to list and sink, according to Greece’s ANA news agency.
The ship went down 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) southwest of Lesbos, near the coast of Turkey.
The 106-meter vessel was traveling from Dekheila, Egypt, to Istanbul.
The vessel, operated by a company based in Lebanon, was reportedly carrying salt.
The Greek coast guard said the ship’s crew of 14 included eight Egyptians, four Indians and two Syrians.
Rescue hampered by severe weather
Five cargo ships, three coast guard vessels, air force and navy helicopters as well as a navy frigate joined the rescue effort.
A severe storm has been raging throughout southeastern Europe since Saturday.
The Greek Meteorological Office (EMY) said winds are gusting up to Force 11 in places.
As a result, almost all ferry connections between the Greek islands and the mainland have been canceled.
Earlier this month, a historic Greek warship was damaged by gale-force winds after repeatedly striking the dock.
The country has been struck by repeated flooding over recent months after being hit by a series of storms.
Central Greece was devastated in September by large amounts of rain dumped by Storm Daniel, destroying crops and killing tens of thousands of farm animals in the heart of Greece’s agricultural production.