A cargo ship carrying 83 crew members and a load of cattle sank off the Lebanese coast Thursday in stormy weather, and hours later rescuers had pulled 12 people from the water, officials said.
Vessels from the Lebanese navy and a U.N. peacekeeping force in the country were trying to find and rescue others from the sunken ship, which was believed to have been sailing from Uruguay to the Syrian port of Tartous.
Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, identified the Panamanian-flagged ship as the Danny F II. It sank 11 miles (17 kilometers) from the city of Tripoli in a heavy rainstorm.
The vessel sent a distress call Thursday afternoon but had sunk before a Lebanese navy ship reached the area, a senior Lebanese army officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to news media.
A civilian vessel was also called in to help, and UNIFIL sent an Italian frigate, a German mine hunter and a German supply ship.
The crew members were from Britain, Australia, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uruguay, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Thursday's sinking comes a week after a freighter heading to an Israeli port sank in stormy weather in international waters near the Lebanese coast. Six of its 12 crew members were rescued. That ship was headed from Greece to the northern Israeli port of Haifa.