Dutch rescue workers have resumed their search for seven crew missing after their cargo ship sank in the North Sea, but said there was little hope of finding survivors.
“There are still seven missing, we’re now searching with planes and helicopters,” coastguard spokesman Peter Westenberg told AFP news agency after the search resumed early on Thursday.
“We’re currently only searching for bodies because the chance that anyone has survived is very small,” he said.
Rescuers, including the Dutch navy, on Wednesday plucked 13 survivors from the water after the Baltic Ace car carrier collided with the Corvus J container ship about 100km southwest of Rotterdam.
They also pulled four bodies from the water before suspending the search overnight.
The Baltic Ace sank shortly afterwards, the coastguard said. The Corvus J was also damaged, but assisted in the search for missing crew.
Dutch coastguard spokesman Marcel Oldenburger told AFP that the crew was made up of Poles, Filipinos, Bulgarians and Ukrainians.
Polish media reported that 11 of the crew were Polish, but it was not known how many of them had survived.
“The police are trying to identify the bodies that have been found,” Oldenburger said. He could not say if the bodies had been pulled from the water wearing life vests.
Four of the survivors were flown to a hospital in Rotterdam, seven taken by rescue helicopter to a hospital in Belgium and two were treated on board a rescue ship.
The coastguard said all survivors were suffering from hypothermia.
The Baltic Ace was heading from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Kotka in Finland and the Cypriot-registered Corvus J from Grangemouth in Scotland to Antwerp in Belgium.
The shipping lane where the accident happened is one of the busiest in the North Sea and an important passing point for ships sailing into Rotterdam port, Europe’s largest and the fifth-largest in the world.
Rotterdam port spokesman Sjaak Poppe told AFP the collision would not affect shipping in and out of the port.