THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A cargo ship was sinking after a collision on the North Sea Wednesday night and rescuers in helicopters and ships were plucking crew members from life rafts, a coast guard spokesman said.
The 148-meter (485-foot) Baltic Ace, with a crew of 24, collided with the 134-meter (440-foot) container ship Corvus J around 65 kilometers (40 miles) off the coast of the southern Netherlands after dark and close to busy shipping lanes.
"We have found life rafts and the people in them are being picked up by helicopters," coast guard spokesman Peter Verburg said.
Verburg said the 12-man crew of the Corvus J was still on board the ship, which was helping in the rescue operation.
"It is badly damaged, but not in danger of sinking," he said.
Verburg said the cause of the collision was not known.
"At the moment we are solely focused on getting the people to safety," he said.
A Belgian helicopter and Dutch navy frigate also were involved in the rescue operation.