August 15, 2009 in Nation/World

Lost Russian-manned ship found off West Africa coast

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

In this 2008 file photo the cargo ship the Arctic Sea is seen in Kotka, Finland.
(Full-size photo)

MOSCOW – A Russian-manned cargo ship that vanished last month in the Atlantic was found Friday near Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa, according to French and Russian officials. There was no immediate information about the condition of the crew or whether there was anyone else on board.

The Arctic Sea – carrying a load of timber and 15 Russian sailors – disappeared after passing through the English Channel on July 28. The Maltese-flagged freighter sent radio messages as it sailed along the coasts of France and Portugal, but then all contact was lost.

“Cape Verde coast guards said they have located the boat” about 520 miles off Cape Verde, said French Defense Ministry spokesman Capt. Jerome Baroe. France was involved in search efforts together with several other countries.

Russian naval ships were ordered to pursue the ship after the Cape Verde coast guard reported the freighter was outside the country’s territorial waters to the north, said Russian Ambassador to Cape Verde Alexander Karpushin.

The ambassador did not say when the naval ships were expected to arrive in the area.

It also was unclear whether the freighter had laid anchor or was continuing to sail south. It had enough food and fuel to last through the end of the month, the ship’s Russian operator said.

The ship’s crew had reported a June 24 attack in Swedish waters by up to a dozen masked men, who they said tied them up, questioned them about drug trafficking, beat them and searched the freighter before leaving 12 hours later in a high-speed inflatable boat.

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