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Two crew members are feared to have died after British and Danish container ships collided in the Baltic Sea this morning.
The UK-flagged Scot Carrier and Danish Karin Hoej collided at around 3.30am while navigating a 25-mile-wide stretch of water between the southern tip of Sweden and the Danish island of Bornholm.
Automated emergency beacons were activated with six lifeboats, three helicopters and nearby vessels that rushed to the spot where they found the Karin had capsized.
Rescuers said ‘screams’ were heard coming from the water around 4.45 a.m., believed to have come from the two members of the Danish ship’s crew who are currently missing.
But by 9 a.m. no signs of life had been found, and the Swedish coast guard said it would be impossible for anyone to survive in 4C (39F) water that long.
Search efforts have now been suspended, with a preliminary investigation open for criminal negligence. The entire crew of the UK ship is safe.
The capsized Danish ship is now being towed to Sandhammar, in the southern tip of Sweden, where it will be anchored before search teams enter to see if the bodies of the two crew members are trapped there.
The Swedish Maritime Administration said the British ship appeared to collide with the Danish as they were both sailing in the same direction through the canal in the early hours, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reported.
Forecasters said the weather in the canal was calm but foggy at the time of the accident.
Temperatures were cold, just 4 ° C (39 ° F) in water and 5 ° C (41 ° F) in air, making the survival time in water around an hour.
Jonas Franzén, a spokesman for the Swedish Maritime Administration leading the rescue efforts, said it was not yet clear what caused the accident.
“A preliminary investigation into gross negligence in maritime traffic is underway under the direction of prosecutors,” his agency said in a statement.
Danish rescuers said two people from the Karin are missing and are believed to have fallen into the water.
Danish-flagged Karin Hoej, a 180ft vessel built in 1977, was sailing from Sweden to Denmark in the same direction as the Carrier when they collided – causing the Karin to capsize
“I can confirm that an accident has occurred, but I do not know the circumstances,” added Soren Hoj, Managing Director of Rederiet Hoj, owner of Karin Hoej.
“We are deeply concerned,” he added, confirming that the two missing crew members are Danish nationals.
The Scot Carrier, nearly 300 feet long and built in 2018, was heading from Salacgriva in northern Latvia to Montrose in Scotland when the accident occurred.
Karin Hoej, built in 1977, ran from Södertälje, south of the Swedish capital Stockholm, to Nykobing Falster in southern Denmark.
Both ships were sailing in the same direction, east to west, through the 25-mile gap between the southern tip of Sweden and the island of Bornholm when the accident occurred.
The Karin was not carrying any cargo at the time of the accident.
Danish Karin Hoej Quick and Facts
- Two container ships have collided in Baltic Sea off the coast of southern Sweden
- British vessel Scot Carrier, en route from Latvia to Scotland, struck Danish ship Karin Hoej, which was sailing from Sweden to Denmark, around 3.30am
- Karin capsized with at least two people in the water, ‘screams’ heard by rescuers
- Search has now been called off, with criminal negligence investigation launched