Panamanian-flagged freighter Danny F II capsized in stormy seas off Lebanon’s northern coast while transporting livestock last Thursday.  Rescuers are still searching for dozens of people.  The freighter had more than 80 people on board.

So far, at least 40 crewmembers have been found alive and two bodies were also recovered.

One of the survivors, a Filipino national, told rescuers that the British captain of the vessel which was heading from Uruguay to the Syrian port of Tartous, had been killed.

“He told us that the ship’s engine went down and the captain sounded the alarm and told everyone to jump in the water,” a rescue official recounted.

“He said that 10 minutes after they jumped, the ship overturned sideways in very high waves and sank with the captain still on board.”

Rescue officials noted rough sea conditions being an impairment to the desperate need to find the survivors quickly because of risk of hypothermia.  The waves are as high as three metres (10 feet) and floating dead animals surround the area.

A Lebanese military spokesman told AFP the crew apparently had time to put on their life jackets before the boat capsized.

The ship’s operator, Agencia Schandy, told AFP in Montevideo that the Danny F II had a crew of 76 and six passengers – four Uruguayans, one Brazilian and an Australian.  The freighter left Montevideo November 23 with about 10,000 sheep and almost 18,000 cattle bound for Tartous, north of Tripoli.  All of the animals are presumed lost.

A Togolese-flagged ship also sank off the southern coast of Lebanon last week. Several crew members were rescued by Israel but a number are still missing.

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