At least 14 sailors were killed and five others were missing Monday after commercial vessels caught fire in the Black Sea, Russian officials said.
Russia’s Federal Agency for the Sea and River Transport said the fire erupted while fuel was being pumped between the two Tanzanian-flagged tankers, the Maestro and the Candy. Russian news agencies reported the flames spread from one ship to the other, forcing the crews to jump overboard.
The news agencies quoted the federal maritime agency as saying the two vessels had 31 total crew members — citizens of Turkey and India.
The maritime agency said salvage teams have saved 12 crewmembers. It said crews recovered 11 bodies from the sea, adding that rescuers saw another three dead but failed to recover them. The search for five missing seamen was continuing.
The Russian navy has joined the rescue operation, deploying two of its ships.
The fire erupted while the two vessels were anchored near the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.