A general cargo ship with a dozen crew on board has sunk just off Turkey’s Black Sea coast, in one of several casualties and groundings reported amid heavy seas.

The body of a seafarer from the missing 3,134-dwt Kafkametler (built 1992) has already washed up on Eregli beach, east of Istanbul, Turkey’s general directorate for shipping said in a tweet early on Monday.

A few hours before, Turkish interior minister Ali Yerlikaya confirmed in an emergency press conference overnight that the vessel had sunk. All its seafarers are Turkish citizens.

Coastguards lost contact with the vessel early on Sunday, after reports that it was drifting towards a military breakwater at Eregli.

“Efforts to contact the ship were unsuccessful,” the general directorate said.

The Kafkametler was carrying about 1,500 tonnes of ferrosilicon from Temryuk, a port on the Russian side of the Sea of Azov, to Aliaga, Turkey.

Search and rescue activities were underway. The raging storm, however, renders such efforts extremely difficult.

“Due to bad weather conditions, it is not possible to reach the mentioned area or to have close visual contact,” the general directorate said on Sunday.

Regional turmoil

The Kafkametler is not the only casualty in the region.

The storm also smashed the 55-year-old, 3,180-dwt general cargo ship Pallada (built 1968) on the Eregli shore, breaking its hull in two.

Fortunately, all 13 seafarers on board the Cameroon-flagged ship were previously evacuated and are in good health.

A tugboat saved another dozen seafarers on board a second Cameroon-flagged cargo ship drifting in Eregli after its ropes broke — the 2,478-dwt Sormovskiy-45 (built 1982).

The storm has led to other groundings and destroyed smaller fishing boats in Turkey.

In the Aegean Sea, winds reached speeds of more than 100 km per hour.

At the Greek port of Thessaloniki, the chains of the Velos — a moored Greek Navy vessel and floating museum — broke and its hull was damaged after smashing on the quay.