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Storm hampers search for 8 missing crew

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Strong winds and high seas are hampering efforts to find eight crew members missing after their freighter ship sank off Turkey’s Black Sea coast in a winter storm, officials and reports said Wednesday.

The ship, Vera, with 10 Ukrainian and one Georgian crew, was sailing to Turkey’s Aliaga port from Russia when it sank off the coast of Eregli in stormy waters on Tuesday. The ship’s second and third officers and its cook, a woman, were rescued but eight crew are reported missing.

The Coastal Safety Directorate said Coast Guard boats, including one equipped with special night vision cameras, searched for the crew overnight despite the storm. Tug boats and a helicopter assisted the search while police scoured the shore.

On Wednesday, Gov. Erol Ayyildiz said authorities would send a team of divers to search the wreck of Vera in case the missing crewmen are trapped inside. The private Dogan news agency said, however, those plans were put on hold due to the adverse weather conditions and poor underwater visibility.

The ship, which was carrying scrap metal, took on water and sank while trying to anchor at Eregli to shelter from the storm.

One rescued crew member, Pavlo Selivanov, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that the ship sank “within two or three minutes.”

Most crew members were in cabins and would not have had time to put on their life vests, he said.

Turkey has been hit by a cold snap that has blanketed much of the country in snow, blocked access to some 2,000 villages, forced the cancellation of some 90 flights and disrupted maritime traffic.

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