2 bodies found, 8 missing in ship collision off southern Greece


Ships in the North Sea, off the Belgian coast, near Zeebrugge.



Two people drowned and eight are still missing after two cargo ships collided off the coast of southern Greece early Monday.

The drowned and missing crew was from the Pirireis, a Cook Islands-flagged ship carrying fertilizer, which collided with the ConSouth, sailing under an Antigua-Barbuda flag without cargo.

More from GlobalPost: Silversea Cruises: Cruise liner collides in Vietnam with cargo ship

The ConSouth was not seriously damaged and its crew of 16 — 10 Poles, five Russians and one Filipino — was reported safe. The Pirireis had a crew of 17 Syrians.

"The Pirireis sank in seven minutes," a spokeswoman for the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.

Four coast guard boats, a C-130 airplane and a helicopter are taking part in the search operation for the eight still-missing sailors.

It was not immediately known what caused the collision between the ConSouth, en route to Malta from Turkey, and the Pirireis, sailing from Algeria to Ukraine.

"The weather was fine, the sea was calm," Dimitris Kafantaris, said mayor of the nearby coastal town of Pylos. "Authorities are also checking to see if there was any pollution from the sinking."

Greek Shipping Minister Kostis Mousouroulis also commented that "human error" was probably to blame. There have been reports that no one was on the bridge of the Pirireis when the collision occurred.