ISTANBUL - A ferry with 96 passengers and crew sank
near Turkey's northwest port of Bandirma overnight and
seven people were missing, the vessel's owners said on Monday.
Earlier, local officials said one person was killed and that
about 30 were missing but acknowledged they did not have a full
record of who was on board the ferry.
Local fishermen joined rescue operations when the roll-on
roll-off ferry, loaded with 73 trucks and two cars, went down in
the Sea of Marmara shortly after leaving Bandirma for Istanbul.
The Marmara N Denizcilik ferry company said in a statement
there were 67 passengers and 29 crew on board the vessel when it
sank and that all but seven of the passengers had been rescued,
the state Anatolian news agency reported.
Officials said the cause of the sinking was not immediately
known, but that the ferry began leaning to one side as it pulled
out of the port.
"The ship was rocking back and forth, to the left then to
the right, then finally sunk, completely sunk," one survivor
told CNNTurk television.
Passengers said the ship sank in about 15 minutes and that
many of those on board were asleep in their vehicles before it
began to go down. The ship left Bandirma at 11.15 p.m. (2015
GMT) on Sunday.
Television pictures showed survivors being led from rescue
vessels to the shore where ambulances were waiting.
Five coastguard vessels and one helicopter have been sent to
the area and divers were at the scene.
(Editing by Ralph Gowling)