AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A cargo ship was sinking after colliding with a container ship in the North Sea on Wednesday evening, and a rescue operation was under way, the Dutch coastguard said.

The collision between the Baltic Ace, a car carrier sailing under a Bahamas flag, and the Corvus J, a container ship from Cyprus, took place about 40-50 km (25-30 miles) from the Dutch port of Rotterdam in an important North Sea shipping lane, coastguard spokesman Peter Verburg said.

It was unclear if the crew were still on board, but Verburg said two boats and helicopter were sent to the scene.

Rotterdam port is Europe's biggest, and a disruption to shipping lanes in the vicinity could affect a wide range of goods in and out of Europe.

No one at the port authority was available to comment.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Louise Ireland)