Cargo Ship Sinks Off Dutch Coast, Crew Members Still Missing

Several crew members have died and others are still missing after a cargo ship sank in the North Sea after colliding with another vessel.

A rescue mission occurred after the incident Wednesday night. The Baltic Ace was involved in a collision with the container ship Corvus J. The two vessels were traveling around busy shipping lanes off the southern coast of the Netherlands, according to the Associated Press.

The Corvus J sustained damage, but was still floating and participating in the search for several crew members from the Baltic Ace, which sank quickly after the collision. Of the Baltic Ace's 24-member crew, four were reported dead, 13 had been rescued and seven were still missing.

The Dutch Defense Ministry revealed in a statement that two navy patrol ships were helping in the search as well as helicopters, but maintained that conditions were worsening. It is not clear how much longer the rescue effort can continue.

The rescue effort was called off early Thursday morning local time, and officials stated that they would continue the search when daylight broke.

"We still hope to find them," Kees Brinkman, a spokesman for rescuers, told Dutch media. "Their chances of survival are shrinking."

Peter Verburg, a spokesman for the Dutch Coast Guard, revealed that the crew of the Corvus J was focused on finding the missing crew members even though the ship "was badly damaged."

There is no word yet on what caused the collision as all attention is squarely on finding the remaining crew members.

"At the moment we are solely focused on getting the people to safety," Verburg said.

Reports indicate that the Baltic Ace was heading from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to Kotka in Finland while the Corvus J was on its way the port in Antwerp, Belgium when the two collided.