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UAE cargo ship sinks off Iran’s coast in Persian Gulf, rescue underway

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Al Salmy 6 cargo ship capsized 30 miles off Iran's coast. (Photo by IRNA news agency)

A United Arab Emirates cargo ship transporting cars has sunk 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Iran’s Assaluyeh Port in the Persian Gulf, with Iranian rescuers attempting to account for all of its 30 crew members.

The Dubai-based Salem Al Makrani Cargo Company confirmed its ship the Al Salmy 6 sank on Thursday some 50 kilometres off the coast of Iran and that Iranian authorities had sent a vessel to rescue the crew members.

A local Iranian maritime protection office chief, Hojjat Khosravi, told IRNA, “The Naji rescue boat and 2 tow-boats were sent to the scene to rescue the crew but due to poor weather and strong storms, the Emirati ship sank before their arrival.”

Captain Nizar Qaddoura, the operations manager of the Salem Al Makrani Cargo Company, said that rescuers had saved 16 crew members and another 11 had made it onto a life raft, while one person was saved by a nearby tanker. Two crew members were still in the water.

The crew consisted of nationals from Sudan, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, Qaddoura said. The vessel had been on its way to Umm Qasr, Iraq, carrying cars and other cargo, he said.

The spokesperson said the ship sank in bad weather and that the firm was in touch with Assaluyeh Port authorities in Iran as well with Bahraini aerial rescue services for potential assistance.

The Persian Gulf is a major waterway for trade, ranging from cargo ships that transship onto the rest of the world and energy shipments from the oil-rich Persian Gulf countries. Vessels sinking in the waterway happen very rarely but dust storms and other poor weather have swept across the region since Wednesday, disrupting maritime activities.

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