- Created on Thursday, 06 December 2012 14:50
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Peter Verburg, Netherlands Coastguard: ''The chance that we will find people alive is virtually zero''
Four sailors are dead and another seven are missing after a cargo ship sank in the North Sea following a collision.
The accident took place off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands, after the Baltic Ace sailed from Zeebrugge.
Thirteen crew members of the Baltic Ace have been rescued, but seven are still missing in freezing waters.
The search resumed at dawn but a Netherlands Coastguard spokesman said the chance of finding anyone alive was "virtually zero".
Peter Westenberg said three boats from the Royal Dutch Sea Rescue Organisation, two navy vessels, four helicopters and one coastguard aircraft were being used in the rescue.
Strong winds and high seas had made conditions difficult overnight, and the search was called off at 02:00 (01:00 GMT) before resuming at first light.
Life rafts found
The 148-metre (485-foot) Baltic Ace was sailing under a Bahamas flag and carrying cars from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Kotka in Finland.
Its 24 crew abandoned ship as it sank quickly after colliding with the Cyprus-registered container ship, the Corvus J, sailing from Grangemouth in Scotland to the Belgian port of Antwerp.
The 134-metre Corvus J is said to be badly damaged but not in danger of sinking. All 12 crew members are still on board.
The Dutch coastguard said the cause of the collision, which happened at 18:15 GMT some 65 km (40 miles) off the coast of the southern Netherlands, was not yet known.
The shipping lane where the accident happened is one of the busiest in the North Sea, about 100km (60 miles) from Europe's busiest port, Rotterdam.
But a spokesman for the port said its activities would not be affected by the collision.
Source - BBC