Ship, ferry collide on Dutch canal, skipper feared missing

22nd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A cargo ship collided with a small barge on a Dutch canal near the central city of Utrecht on Friday, leaving the skipper of the barge feared missing, police and the man's employer said.

"A German cargo ship collided with a small barge on the Amsterdam-Rijn canal around 7:00 am (0500 GMT) this morning" at Nieuwer Ter Aa, northwest of Utrecht, the national police KLPD said in a statement, adding the barge "capsized".

"The skipper is missing but it is not yet known if there were other people on board."

KLPD spokeswoman Carine Portengen told AFP "it is also possible that the barge had come loose (from its mooring) and that there was no-one on board."

The company that manages the barge for the Dutch government said the missing person was the skipper.

"We fear the worst. It has been four hours" since he disappeared, Swets ODV spokesman Leonard van Halst told AFP shortly before 11.00 am (0900 GMT).

"It is likely that he will not be found."

The barge is used to transport bicycles and pedestrians across the canal.

The KPLD said a massive search had been launched with divers "for the skipper and other possible casualties".

A police helicopter was scanning the area with heat sensors and infrared cameras. A dredging team has also been deployed.

All shipping traffic on the canal has been halted.

Police had questioned the captain of the German cargo ship, said the statement.

"He was tested for alcohol and was found to be sober."

The KLPD urged witnesses to come forward.

© 2010 AFP

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