September 15, 2008 / 12:12 AM / 9 years ago

Turkish ferry sinks, one killed, four missing

<p>A ferry with 96 passengers and crew sank near Turkey's northwest port of Bandirma overnight and seven people were missing, the vessel's owners said on Monday.Graphics</p>

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A ferry carrying 95 passengers and crew sank near Turkey's northwest port of Bandirma overnight, killing one person, the maritime authority said on Monday. Four people are missing.

Fishermen joined rescue operations when the roll-on roll-off ferry, loaded with 73 trucks and two cars, went down in the Sea of Marmara shortly after leaving Bandirma for Istanbul.

Passengers said the ship sank in about 15 minutes and that many of those on board were asleep in their vehicles when it began to go down.

"There is one dead, four missing and 90 rescued," Maritime Transport General Manager Ozkan Poyraz told Reuters. More than 30 of 89 injured were being treated in hospitals.

The Hayat N vessel had 27 crew on board.

Officials said the cause of the sinking was not immediately known, but that the ferry began leaning to one side as it pulled out of the port.

"The ship was rocking back and forth, to the left then to the right, then finally sunk, completely sunk," one survivor told CNNTurk television.

The ship left Bandirma at 11.15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. EDT) on Sunday.

Television pictures showed survivors being led from rescue vessels to the shore where ambulances were waiting.

One frigate, 4 coastguard vessels, two helicopters and 21 divers took part in the night rescue operation.

Earlier, Marmara N Denizcilik ferry company had said in a statement there were no deaths.

Editing by Janet Lawrence

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