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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 November, 2004, 15:10 GMT
Ships stricken by Algerian storm
A ship is run aground off Algiers
Waves were reported 8m high
Algerian rescue teams are searching for about 18 missing sailors after fierce storms caused three shipwrecks off Algiers, killing at least one sailor.

Another three people were killed when their homes collapsed, Algerian fire services told national radio.

One official said gale force winds overnight whipped up waves more than 8m (26ft) high.

Two Algerian ships were reported to have run aground, while a Turkish cargo ship was sunk.

The body of one crew member from the Turkish vessel was recovered, civil protection officials said, quoted by the Algerian state news agency.

"There is one victim among its crew... and a search is still on to find the other crew members," an official said.

Airborne search

Reuters has reported the deaths of two crew members from the Algerian cargo ship Bechar, which sank on Saturday night.

One survivor who was taken to hospital, Mostapha Rezoug, told state television: "I can't believe I am still alive, this is really a miracle."

The coastguard and navy launched a search and rescue mission.

The third stricken ship was driven ashore at a suburban district of Algiers, but no casualties have been reported.

Fishing vessels also hit trouble, with one sinking in the port of Algiers, a photographer for the AFP agency reported.

It was not clear whether the oil refinery at Algiers port had been damaged in the storm.

Some 140mm (5.5in) of rain was reported to have fallen in 48 hours across parts of Algeria.

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