River Elbe sinking: Restored 19th Century ship goes down

The stricken No 5 Elbe schoonerImage copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The 37m (121ft) schooner had just recently finished a €1.5m (£1.3m; $1.7m) refit

A 19th Century ship that had only recently undergone an expensive restoration has sunk in Germany after a collision with a container vessel.

Several people aboard the No 5 Elbe schooner were injured in Saturday’s incident on the Elbe River near the northern city of Hamburg.

But all 43 people were quickly evacuated by rescue boats nearby.

The schooner, built in 1883, is Hamburg’s last seagoing wooden ship from the era.

The cause of the collision at about 12:30 GMT on Saturday is being investigated.

“If we hadn’t been in the vicinity there could have been fatalities,” fire service official Wilfried Sprekels told the local newspaper Stader Tageblatt.

Rescue vessels were dealing with a minor incident nearby at the time.

Despite all their efforts the schooner sank, but its passengers and crew were rescued.

Passenger Almut Koerting told the BBC that she wanted to thank the crew for their “prudential and sober-minded action before, during and after the terrible crash”.

“We have experienced a wonderful, lovingly maintained ship, which beautifully drove us down Elbe River, and then, incredibly enough, still took her people to port in spite of being severely damaged in the collision.”

The 37m (121ft) boat had just recently finished a €1.5m (£1.3m; $1.7m) refit in a Danish shipyard.

Its owners hope to salvage it so it could be rented for harbour excursions.

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