A Cypriot tanker that caught fire in a storm in the Caribbean Sea yesterday,
leaving 30 of its 35 crewmen missing and another known dead,
apparently sank late today, the Coast Guard reported.
An air search for the missing men by planes
from three countries was suspended at darkness
but two merchant ships at the scene
continued to hunt through the night
for the crew of the Master Michael,
an American owned, Cyprus registered tanker.
A Coast Guard spokesman in Miami, Johnnie Long,
said a radio message from the Neptune Gardens,
a freighter at the scene, reported at 4:15 PM Eastern Standard time
that the Master Michael had sunk.
Mr Long said an air search by the US Coast Guard and Navy planes
as well as Dutch and Jamaican aircraft would resume at dawn.
The Neptune Gardens and the tanker, Texaco Brazil Brussels,
both continued searching along the course
the Master Michael was thought to have followed
from the time the fire broke out.
Four crewmen from the 350 ft Master Michael leaped into the sea
and managed to swim through the 10 ft waves to an Italian tanker Ilici.
A fifth man drowned in the attempt
and the Coast Guard said the body could not be recovered
from the stormy sea,
which was whipped by winds of more than 30 miles per hour.
The survivors told rescuers that many of the missing men
had leaped into the sea without life jackets.
The Coast Guard reported that apparently
there was no emergency life raft available aboard the tanker.
The Master Michael, owned by Crossway Navigation Agency of New York,
carried 1.8 million gallons of diesel fuel.
The ship caught fire halfway between the Dominican Republic
and the northern coast of South America, the Coast Guard said.