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Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 09:48 UK

Passenger ferry sinks in Turkey

Medics assist a passenger from a ferry in Turkey
A number of injured people were taken to hospital

A ferry has sunk near the north-western Turkish port of Bandirma, leaving at least one person dead and five others missing, officials say.

Officials said 89 of at least 95 people on board either swam to shore or were rescued by coast guards or fishing boats. One body has been recovered.

Military divers were searching for five others lost in the Marmara Sea.

It is thought they may have been lorry drivers, who were sleeping in their vehicles when the ship went down.

'Like Titanic'

The roll-on-roll-off ferry went down about 300m from the shore at about 2330 local time (2030 GMT) on Sunday night, shortly after leaving Bandirma for Istanbul.

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"The vessel sank within half an hour... There is one dead," Bandirma Mayor Recep Eraydin told Turkey's NTV television.

Night-vision helicopters were sent to the area to assist the search and rescue operation.

At least 25 people were injured and taken to Bandirma's hospitals. The entire crew - nearly 30 people - were among the survivors.

"There was great panic and no-one was in a position to help others... It was just like the Titanic disaster," crewman Melih Erim was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

The captain of the ferry said misplaced cargo had probably caused the accident, the CNN-Turk news channel reported.

Other reports in Turkish media suggest that the vessel may have been overloaded.


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