Queen Hind cargo ship carrying 14,000 sheep overturns off Romania

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A cargo ship carrying sheep that capsized off the coast of Romania
A rescue operation to save 14,000 sheep on board is under way

A large cargo ship carrying more than 14,000 sheep has overturned off the coast of Romania, with rescuers scrambling to save the animals.

The Queen Hind capsized on Sunday morning after leaving the port of Midia, near the south-eastern city of Constanța, on the Black Sea coastline.

All crew members – 22 Syrian nationals – have been rescued.

An operation, involving police, firefighters and the Romanian Navy, is under way to save the sheep.

Some sheep found swimming near the Palau-flagged ship have been rescued so far but many are believed to have drowned.

“We have already saved a small number. They were swimming in the sea,” Stoica Anamaria, spokeswoman for emergency services in Constanța, told the BBC.

A cargo ship carrying sheep that capsized off the coast of Romania
Image captionIt is unclear what caused the ship to list so badly

Meanwhile, one crew member was taken to hospital with hypothermia.

“He fell into the sea but was very quickly rescued,” Ms Anamaria said, adding that the rest of the crew were “all safe here in the harbour”.

It is not yet known what caused the ship to capsize. An investigation will be carried out when the operation to rescue the sheep and salvage the vessel is finished, authorities said.

The ship, which left Midia at around 12:00 local time (10:00 GMT), was heading to the port city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia with its cargo.

Built in 1980, the vessel measures 85m (278ft) and has a gross tonnage of 3,785, according to the Marine Traffic website.

Sheep that have been rescued from a capsized cargo ship off the coast of Romania
Image captionA small number of sheep have been rescued from the capsized ship
Emergency crew involved in the operation tow a sheep
Image captionPolice, firefighters and the Romanian Navy are involved in the operation to save the sheep

It had arrived at the port of Midia on 23 November from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Romanian media reported.

Pictures show the upended vessel on its side a few hundreds metres (yards) from the port, around 20km (12 miles) north of Constanța.

The port is primarily used for the supply of crude oil for nearby industrial and petrochemical facilities.

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