June 2, 2006

Hopes fade for missing crew in Aegean ship collision

By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS (Reuters) - Hopes of finding five missing crew of a
Turkish-operated cargo ship that sank after colliding with a
Greek tanker in the Aegean Sea, were fading on Friday after
fruitless night-long rescue efforts, officials said.

The Morocco-bound, Panamanian registered "Han" cargo ship,
which was operated by a Turkish ship owner and had a crew of
13, collided on Thursday with a Greek tanker off the island of
Hydra, killing one Turkish sailor.

Authorities said it appeared that the collision was an
accident. The tanker safely plucked seven Turkish crew from the
sea as well as the body of the Turkish sailor.

Several rescue helicopters, coastguard vessels and dozens
of fishing boats worked through the night some 16 nautical
miles southeast of the island, to locate the cargo ship's
missing five crew members.

"They have not yet found anything," a Greek Merchant Marine
Ministry official told Reuters. "Hopes of finding them alive
are fading quickly despite this very big rescue operation that
has been ongoing for almost 24 hours."

The cause of the collision was not known but Greek
officials said the Greek tanker, which had left the nearby oil
refinery of Agii Theodori, had blown its horn to warn the cargo
ship of the imminent collision but the ship did not change

The Greek ministry official said the crash had not caused
any oil leak.