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Italian tugboat ‘Franco P.’ sinks: five dead, commander saved

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An Italian tugboat, the ‘Franco P.’ sank off the coast of Bari departed from Ancona and headed for Albania, engaged in the transport of a pontoon to Durres. As he explains Baritoday the search for the missing persons – two from the Marches, two from Puglia and a Tunisian – which began yesterday evening, Wednesday 18 May, had a dramatic outcome.

Four dead, a missing person is sought

In the morning, the bodies of two of the five missing seamen were recovered by a Croatian patrol boat. Two other bodies were identified by an aircraft. The body of the missing fifth was then identified around 1pm. There were six crew members in all and only the commander was rescued.

The commander of the tugboat, a 63-year-old from Catania, was rescued from a ship immediately hijacked by the Port Authority, simultaneously intervening with the patrol boat 309. The man, in a state of shock, was transported to the Policlinico di Bari.

The men of the Harbor Master’s Office had set sail around 21 towards about 52 miles from the coast of Bari, in international waters.

The search operations for the missing are still in progress, coordinated by the operations room of the Port Authority of Bari, in concert with the Croatian authorities. On the spot there are five ships with the support of a helicopter (over the course of the hours, an aircraft of the Air Force, one of the Navy, one Croatian vehicle and currently one of the Port Authority have alternated). The difficulties would be connected to the strong wind that rages in the area.

In these hours the recovery of the pontoon which was towed by the vehicle then sunk is also expected: on board there would be 11 people, in good condition.

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