A British cargo ship sunk after colliding with another bulk carrier in the North Sea this morning, leaving one dead and four missing – with a P&O cruise ship diverting to join the desperate search for the remaining crew members.
British-flagged vessel Verity collided with another cargo ship Polesie at around 3am this morning about 14 miles southwest of the German island of Helgoland, Germany‘s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said.
The 300ft vessel, which was carrying steel from Bremen in Germany to the British port of Immingham, sank following the impact and rescuers have launched a desperate mission to find the missing crew members.
The P&O cruise ship Iona, which left Southampton three days ago for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges in Belgium, has now joined in the search for survivors.
But it has since emerged that the body of a man has been recovered while four crew members are still missing, the German Sea Rescue Society said, adding that two more people had been pulled from the water alive.
Rescuers are still desperately searching for the four remaining crew members – but that search in the 15C North Sea is being hampered by 30mph winds, 10ft waves and poor visibility due to fog.
Passengers on board the Iona have told MailOnline how they were awoken at 5.30am to an emergency announcement from the captain about the accident, with one saying everyone ‘was in a state of panic’.
The 300ft vessel, which was on its way from Bremen in Germany to the British port of Immingham, sank following the impact and rescuers have launched a desperate mission to find several people who are missing. Pictured: Rescue vessels at the scene
The P&O cruise ship Iona, which left Southampton three days ago for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges in Belgium, has now joined in the search for survivors
British-flagged vessel Verity (file image) collided with another cargo ship Polesie at around 5am this morning about 14 miles southwest of the island of Helgoland, Germany ‘s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said
An image from Marine Traffic shows the two cargo ships getting perilously close to each other before colliding
One holidaymaker, Gary Corbin, claimed the cruise liner recovered three bodies during the search. But the German Sea Rescue Society said one body had been recovered and two people had been rescued. Another four crew members remain missing.
Another passenger, who wishes to be identified only as Mr Johnson, said he saw the P&O cruise ship searching the water with spotlights this morning.
He said: ‘We are on holiday but this is a very tragic situation. We cannot comprehend how the people involved in the collision must be feeling along with the family of the people who remain missing or have lost their lives.’
The emergency command said any victims rescued from the water can receive medical care on board the cruise ship Iona.
The other ship, the Bahamas-flagged Polesie that had left Hamburg for La Coruna in Spain, remained afloat with 22 people on board after the collision. The Verity was the smaller vessel with a length of almost 300 feet, compared to the Polesie’s 295 feet.
The P&O cruise ship Iona, which can hold 5,200 holidaymakers and 1,800 crew, has joined several vessels in the search for Verity, including sea rescue cruisers ‘Hermann Marwede’ and ‘Bernhard Gruben’.
The owner of Verity, Faversham Ships Ltd, is based on the Isle of Wight and said it had no comment on the situation.
In 2017, another cargo ship called The Islay Trade, which was owned and managed by Faversham Ships, ran aground near Margate Harbour. The cargo ship’s chief offer ‘became uncertain of the vessel’s position and overwhelmed’, according to a Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report seen by The Times.
A passenger on board the Iona said he was woken up at 5.45am this morning to an emergency announcement and saw the Iona searching the dark waters with a beam as he stepped out onto the deck.
‘Everyone was very petrified and scared. Everyone was in a state of panic,’ Mr Johnson told MailOnline.
‘It was very dark, we had search beams from all angles of the cruise ship hunting. There were chilling noises and announcements as everyone was trying to find out what was happening.’
He added: ‘You never know what’s going to happen in the world, we just all hope that the outcome does not become more tragic.’
Two rescue cruisers, an emergency tug, a pilot boat, a police patrol boat and a helicopter are helping with the search
A view from the P&O cruise ship Iona shows the rescue operation underway with several vessels at the scene
Mr Johnson, who saw the cruise ship searching the waters with a spotlight, said: ‘This is a very tragic situation’
A helicopter (pictured) is also involved in the search as well as an emergency tug, a pilot boat and a police patrol boat
Another passenger on board Iona who wished to remain anonymous, said she was woken up by the cruise ship stopping. ‘The crew were called to their muster stations, that’s how I found out something was wrong.
‘It wasn’t until later that the captain announced we were helping in a search and rescue operation with the German government. I went outside and saw the search lights in the water, we all felt sad and anxious, hoping that they would find people.’
The passenger added: ‘It’s a horrible thing to happen and our thoughts go to those who are currently missing and their families. We are anxiously waiting for updates in the hope more people are found.’
‘There’s a very sombre feeling on board, we are all awaiting updates and are praying for good news.’
Two rescue cruisers, an emergency tug, a pilot boat, a police patrol boat and a helicopter are helping with the search.
A helicopter is also involved in the search as well as an emergency tug, a pilot boat and a police patrol boat.
The German emergency command said it also has a sensor aircraft flying over the sea in order to obtain more information on the whereabouts of Verity.
The other ship, the Bahamas-flagged Polesie (file image), remained afloat with 22 people on board
The P&O cruise ship Iona (file image), which left Southampton three days ago for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges in Belgium, has now joined in the search for the survivors. The emergency command said the victims can receive medical care on board Iona
A P&O Cruises spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘P&O Cruises Iona is currently involved in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Germany.
‘The incident is ongoing and Iona’s cooperation complies with international maritime law as well as being consistent with the company’s moral and legal obligations.
‘Iona is scheduled to be at sea today and this event should have no impact upon tomorrow’s scheduled call to Rotterdam or the onward itinerary.’
This is a breaking news story, more to follow…