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Cargo ship with 12 people aboard sinks in Black Sea

Three crew members have been rescued

SIMFEROPOL/ROSTOV-ON-DON, April 19. /TASS/. A shipwreck occurred in the Black Sea waters on Wednesday, the Crimean department of the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.

"On April 19, 2017, the Heroes of Arsenal ship wrecked in the waters of the Black Sea," the department said in a statement.

There were 12 crew members onboard the vessel - nine Ukrainians, two Russians, including the captain, and a Georgian citizen.

Three crew members have been rescued, according to a spokesman for the Investigative Committee’s southern department for transport.

"The rescue operation is ongoing," he added.

The rescue effort is hampered by a storm in the area.

The cause of the shipwreck is yet to be established, the investigators said.

According to the Investigative Committee, the Heroes of Arsenal cargo ship issued a distress call at 3:30 a.m. Moscow time and sank some 19 miles away from Cape Zhelezny Rog, near the Kerch Strait. The ship, flying the flag of Panama, transported grain from the port city of Azov in the Rostov region to Turkey.

A spokesperson for the Russian Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot) earlier told TASS the vessel was owned by a Turkish company registered in the Marshall Islands.