Storms Delay Search for Crew Missing After Turkish Cargo Ship Sinks in Black Sea

November 21, 2023

Severe storms have delayed a search-and-rescue operation for 12 crew members of a cargo ship that sank off Turkey’s Black Sea coast, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said Monday.

The Turkish-flagged Kafkametler sank on Sunday after hitting a breakwater outside the harbor off the town of Eregli, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Istanbul, Yerlikaya told reporters. He said rescue crews were on standby waiting for the weather conditions to ease to begin a rescue mission.

“Unfortunately, we could not carry out search-and-rescue activities for the 12 Turkish crew members,” Yerlikaya said. “As soon as conditions improve the search- and-rescue operations will begin immediately.” (Editor’s note: Later news reports revealed that the body of the ship’s cook had been found which left 11 crew members still missing).

The severe storms that hit northwestern Turkey caused widespread damage and disruption on Sunday, including the breakup of another cargo ship and the evacuation of a prison.

The Cameroon-flagged Pallada “broke into two due to heavy weather conditions” after running aground amid 5-meter (16-foot) waves off Eregli, the Maritime General Directorate said. All 13 crew were rescued safely.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said prisoners had been transferred from Eregli’s prison to surrounding facilities due to rising water levels.

Elsewhere in Turkey, two people were killed after being swept by flood waters caused by heavy rains in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir and Batman, Yerlikaya said. Some 50 people were hurt in the floods.

In neighboring Bulgaria, gale-force winds and heavy rain and snow claimed the lives of two people on Sunday and disrupted power supplies. Officials declared a state of emergency in the Black Sea city of Varna.

Photograph: A view of a Cameroon-flagged Pallada rests among rocks at the sea shore in Eregli, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. The Cameroon-flagged Pallada broke into two due to heavy weather conditions after running aground in 5-meter (16-foot) waves off Eregli, the Maritime General Directorate said. All 13 crew were rescued safely (IHA via AP)