22 June, 05:59

Dutch emergency workers battle to save sinking cruise ship

Dutch emergency workers battle to save sinking cruise ship

Dutch emergency workers were battling to save a sinking river cruise ship early Sunday morning after it sprung a major leak, forcing the evacuation of almost 200 pensioners and crew. The 110-metre (360-feet) vessel "Britannia" was on a cruise near the eastern Dutch city of Zutphen, on the Ijssel River when it started taking on water around 22:00 GMT, emergency services spokesman Robert Spijkerman said.

"All 154 passengers and 40 crew members have been evacuated from the ship and we're trying to pump out water to prevent her from sinking," Spijkerman told AFP.

"She has a large hole near the stern and we're not sure we'll be able to keep her afloat," he added.

The passengers are mainly pensioners from Germany and Austria, he added.

They have been given temporary shelter in a cafe in Zutphen and would later be taken to a hotel, Spijkerman said.

He could not immediately say where the ship came from or where it was headed.

River cruises on the Ijssel; an important branch of the Rhine is a popular tourist activity, especially in summer, taking sight-seers through the scenic flat Dutch countryside.

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