A Comoros-flagged cargo ship, the RAPTOR, sank off the coast of Lesbos (an Island in Greece) on Sunday, claiming one life and leaving 12 crew members missing. The vessel, carrying a cargo of salt, had departed from Dekheila, Egypt, en route to Istanbul according to Reuters.
The Greek coastguard, responding to a distress call prompted by a reported mechanical failure, launched a major rescue operation in challenging weather conditions. Gale-force winds, reaching 9-10 on the Beaufort scale, contributed to the ship’s demise. A navy helicopter successfully rescued one crew member, who is now at Lesbos General Hospital.
Conflicting reports about the crew composition emerged, with the Athens News Agency (ANA) stating two Syrian nationals, one Indian, and 11 Egyptians, while Reuters reported eight Egyptians and the rest Syrian and Indian nationals.
The ship, battling strong waves and worsening weather, began tilting at 8:20 am, activating a “mayday” distress signal before disappearing from radar. The sinking occurred amid a broader emergency weather warning as Storm Oliver approached Greece.
The maritime tragedy follows recent weather-related incidents in Greece, including the damaging of a historic Greek warship and severe flooding in central Greece.
Greece continues to grapple with the aftermath of storms, with this latest incident underscoring the risks faced by seafarers in adverse weather conditions. Authorities are now focused on understanding how the event unfolded, as investigations into the mechanical failure and subsequent sinking unfold.