NEWS

‘Human error’ cited behind collision of ships that killed at least two sailors

At least two Syrian sailors drowned and another eight remained missing late on Monday after two foreign-flagged cargo vessels collided off the coast of Methoni, in the Peloponnese, causing one of the ships to sink.

The Pirireis, a 13,000-ton vessel with a Cook Islands flag, collided with the 9,000-ton Antigua-Barbuda-flagged Consouth, shortly before 7 a.m., according to the Merchant Marine Ministry, which said the first ship sank within seven minutes. The circumstances of the collision were unclear but local reports suggested that the captain of the Pirireis had not been at his post.

Of the Pirireis’s 17-strong crew of Syrians, seven were rescued and two found drowned by seamen of the Consouth. The other eight remained missing late yesterday and hopes of finding them alive dimmed as night fell. The 16-member crew of the Consouth – 10 Polish nationals, five Russians and one Filipino – were unhurt in the collision, which damaged the stern of their vessel, and were contributing to rescue efforts, coast guard officials said. A navy rescue helicopter and a C-130 transport aircraft were also helping the search which was to resume at sunrise on Tuesday.

The Pirireis had been en route from Algeria to Ukraine with a cargo of fertilizer when it collided with the Consouth, which was traveling from Turkey to Malta without any cargo, ministry officials said. The cause of the crash was unclear as weather conditions had been good. Authorities said “human error” was most likely to blame.