Romania searching for three missing crew after ship sinks in Black Sea

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian rescue teams were searching on Saturday for three missing crew members of a cargo ship that sank off the Black Sea coast, the naval authority said.

Officials said they were notified very early on Saturday that the Tanzania-flagged Mohammad Z had sunk 26 nautical miles away from Romania's Danube village of Sfantu Gheorghe.

The naval authority's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), border police and two commercial vessels in the ship's vicinity were involved in the search and rescue efforts.

Mohammad Z had eleven crew members on board, nine Syrian citizens and two Egyptians.

"Eight of them were rescued by the commercial vessel Michel, which was nearest to the accident place, under the coordination of MRCC," the naval authority said in a statement.

"At present efforts are continuing to find the other missing three crew members, all of Syrian nationality."

The authority said it was unclear why the ship had sunk.

The Black Sea is crucial for shipments of grain, oil and oil products and is shared by Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Turkey, as well as Ukraine and Russia.

Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, mines have begun drifting into the Black Sea, with Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish military diving teams defusing those that have drifted into their waters.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Mark Potter)