Rescuers try to save nearly 15,000 sheep from sea after cargo ship overturns off Romania

Rescuers are trying to save nearly 15,000 sheep from the sea after a cargo ship overturned off the coast of Romania.

The Queen Hind capsized on Sunday morning after leaving the port of Midia, near the city of Constanta, with 14,600 sheep on board.

Reports said at least 32 sheep had been found swimming near the ship and rescued, but many are thought to have drowned.

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All 22 of the ship’s Syrian crew were rescued – one was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.

The Queen Hind was carrying 14,600 sheep (ISU Constanta)
The Queen Hind was carrying 14,600 sheep (ISU Constanta)

Police, firefighters and the coastguard assembled in a joint operation to try to save the animals.

There are concerns for the thousands of sheep locked in the ship’s hold.

Ana-Maria Stoica, spokeswoman for the rescue services in Constanta, told the BBC: "We have already saved a small number. They were swimming in the sea.”

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The rescue attempt was halted on Sunday night but will resume on Monday morning.

Ms Stoica said one crew member “fell into the sea but was very quickly rescued" before being taken to hospital and that the rest of the crew were "all safe here in the harbour".

“The rescue operation is ongoing,” she told AFP. “We hope that the sheep inside the ship’s hold are still alive.”

Rescuers carry a sheep to safety after a ship capsized off the coast of Romania (ISU Constanta)
Rescuers carry a sheep to safety after a ship capsized off the coast of Romania (ISU Constanta)

An investigation has been launched to find out what caused the ship, which was bound for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, to capsize.

The ship was built in 1980 and is 85 metres long.

Images showed the vessel on its side just a few hundred metres from the port of Midia.

Animal rights campaigners have called for an urgent investigation into the incident, as did Acebop, Romania’s main livestock breeder and exporter association.

Its president, Mary Pana, told AFP: “Our association is shocked by the disaster.

"If we cannot protect livestock during long-distance transports, we should outright ban them."

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