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11 missing after ship sinks in Mediterranean: Israel

world Updated: Dec 12, 2009 19:26 IST
AFP
Ukrainian sailors

Eleven Ukrainian sailors have gone missing from a ship, which sank off Lebanon, and UN forces with the help of Israel's military have launched a rescue operation, Israeli officials said on Saturday.

"Defence Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israeli navy and air force to help search for missing people on the ship that sank off the coast of the Lebanese port of Tyre," the defence ministry said in a statement.

A Ukrainian crew member has so far been rescued from the cargo ship that set sail from Greece but 11 of his compatriots are still missing, it said, adding that Israeli helicopters were involved in the search.

An army spokeswoman said the Israeli military was helping the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the search.

The ship was headed toward the northern Israeli port of Haifa and was 50 miles (80 kilometres) off the Lebanese coast in international waters when it sank, she said.

A military source said the ship was believed to be Turkish but there was no immediate confirmation.