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SEVASTOPOL, April 19. /TASS/. The Heroes of Arsenal cargo ship split in two during a severe storm in the Black Sea waters on Wednesday, the press service of the Russian Federal Marine and River Transport Agency told TASS.
"We have information that the Heroes of Arsenal dry cargo carrier split in half during a severe storm," the press service said. No malfunction had been reported before the ship left the harbor. "The rescue effort is being hampered by poor weather conditions, which include wind speeds of up to 20 meters per second and very high seas," it said.
According to a source, the bodies of two sailors were found. "Two bodies have been taken to a rescue vessel from the shipwreck scene," the source said.
One crew member, a Ukrainian citizen, was earlier rescued. The fate of nine other sailors remains unknown.
Some 140 rescuers are involved in the effort to save the sailors.
Russia’s Emergencies’ Ministry reported there is no oil spill at the scene.
"There is no spill of oil products at the shipwreck site. Search and rescue works are underway," the ministry said.
It was reported earlier that up to 30 tonnes of oil products might be inside the shipwreck.
The vessel capsized in the Black Sea waters some 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the south of the port of Taman. The cargo ship issued a distress call at around 4.00 a.m. Moscow time near the Kerch Strait. The Panama-flagged vessel, built in 1980, transported grain from the port city of Azov in Russia’s Rostov region to Turkey. Its operator is a Turkish company, Gunes Shipping.
Earlier reports said there were 12 crew members onboard the vessel - nine Ukrainians, two Russians, including the captain, and a Georgian citizen.
The Investigative Committee’s southern department for transport told TASS three crew members have been rescued. However, the Crimean department of the Emergencies Ministry confirmed that only one sailor had been saved.