Cargo ship sinks off the coast of Germany leaving one dead and four missing as P&O liner joins search for survivors

24 October 2023, 13:58 | Updated: 24 October 2023, 14:01

Search efforts for survivors after the Verity cargo ship sank
Search efforts for survivors after the Verity cargo ship sank. Picture: Facebook/Supplied

By Asher McShane

One sailor has died and four others are missing after a British cargo ship sank following a collision with a vessel in the North Sea.

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P&O passengers on board a cruise liner joined rescue efforts after the Verity collided with cargo ship Polesie at around 3am this morning near the German island of Helgoland.

The 300ft ship was carrying steel from Bremen in Germany to Immingham but sank following an impact.

A desperate rescue effort is under way to find the missing crew members.

The Verity sank after colliding with another ship
The Verity sank after colliding with another ship. Picture: Vessel Finder

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Footage from on board the cruise liner P&O Iona,  which left Southampton three days ago for Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges in Belgium, shows passengers being given an update that they were ‘involved in a search and rescue operation.’

“We're looking for persons in the water from another vessel that has been involved in an incident earlier this morning,” passengers were told over the tannoy.

Search efforts for survivors were under way today
Search efforts for survivors were under way today. Picture: Facebook

Germany's Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said two sailors were rescued but the body of one man had been recovered following the incident.

A search and rescue operation began after the British-flagged Verity hit a larger cargo ship, Polesie, about 14 miles south-west of the German island of Heligoland at around 5am on Tuesday.

While the Bahamas-flagged Polesie stayed afloat, the Verity, which had departed from Bremen, Germany, and was destined for the port of Immingham on the east coast of England, became submerged.

Search spotlights on the water from the P&O cruise ship during the small hours of this morning
Search spotlights on the water from the P&O cruise ship during the small hours of this morning. Picture: Social Media

P&O said in a statement: "P&O Cruises' Iona is currently involved in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Germany.

"The incident is ongoing and Iona's co-operation complies with international maritime law as well as being consistent with the company's moral and legal obligations.

"Iona is scheduled to be at sea today and this event should have no impact upon tomorrow's scheduled call to Rotterdam or the onward itinerary."

Polesie is a much larger ship
Polesie is a much larger ship. Picture: Vessel Finder

One passenger on board the Iona told MailOnline: “We are on holiday but this is a very tragic situation. We cannot comprehend how the people involved in the collision must be feeling along with the family of the people who remain missing or have lost their lives.”

“You never know what’s going to happen in the world, we just all hope that the outcome does not become more tragic.”

Faversham Ships Ltd, which owns the Verity, described the incident as "ongoing" and said it is working with local authorities.

A spokesman for Associated British Ports, which owns the port of Immingham, confirmed it the vessel was due to arrive there.

The Foreign Office has been approached for comment.

Two rescue cruisers, an emergency tug, a pilot boat, a police patrol boat and a helicopter are helping with the search. 

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