Cargo ship from Egypt carrying 14 people sinks off the Greek island of Lesbos

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A Comoros-flagged cargo ship with 14 people on board has sunk off the island of Lesbos in gale-force winds, the Greek coastguard said on Sunday, prompting a major rescue operation.

A navy helicopter picked up one crew member of the RAPTOR cargo ship, according to the coastguard, who has been taken to Lesbos General Hospital.

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Five cargo ships, three coast guard vessels, air force and navy helicopters as well as a navy frigate have joined the rescue effort.

Authorities said the cargo ship, which was carrying 14 crew members and was loaded with salt, went down 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) southwest of Lesbos early on Sunday.

The ship had sailed from Dekheila, Egypt, heading for Istanbul.

The Athens News Agency (ANA), quoting the operating company of the ship based in Lebanon, said that crew members included two Syrian nationals, one Indian, and 11 Egyptians.

An earlier coastguard statement had suggested there were four Indians and eight Egyptians on board.

According to the authorities, the ship first reported a mechanical failure at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT).

At 8:20 a.m., the captain reported that the ship was tilting, and activated the “mayday” distress signal before disappearing from the radar.

According to ANA, the ship is believed to have taken on water in its hold due to the strong waves, causing the ship to list due to its heavy load and sink.

Ships remained docked across several parts of Greece over the weekend, with wind speeds reaching 9-10 on the Beaufort scale, meaning a strong gale to storm force.

An emergency weather warning by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (EMY) was upgraded on Saturday from “worsening weather” to “dangerous weather phenomena,” as Storm Oliver (also called Bettina) moved from the Adriatic Sea toward Greece.

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 cataclysmic amounts of rain dumped by Storm Daniel, destroying crops and killing tens of thousands of farm animals across a wide area that is the heart of Greece’s agricultural production.

Read more: Ukraine-bound cargo ship sinks off Turkey coast, 3 Syrians dead

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