An Iran-flagged cargo ship drowns off in the Caspian Sea near the Republic of Azerbaijan port as nine crew members are rescued.

Iran Press/ Iran news: The Republic of Azerbaijan's State Maritime Agency said on Friday that nine members of the crew of the ship had been rescued before it began sinking near the port in the city of Lankaran.

The agency said in a press release that it started to receive distress signals from the cargo vessel Shabahang at around 14:10 local time (10:10 GMT).

"Two aircraft of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and a patrol vessel of the State Border Service have been sent to the site of the accident," said the agency.

A maritime official based in the northern Iranian province of Gilan said the ship was carrying around 950 tons of tiles and ceramic products when it drowned.

Ali Khedmatgozar told the IRIB News that the ship was privately owned and staffed by seven Iranian and two Indian sailors when it began drowning. He added that all members of the crew had been rescued by the Azerbaijani authorities.

The official would not definitively say what had caused the incident but hinted that the ship had been fighting waves of up to three meters before sinking.

The world’s largest inland body of water, the Caspian Sea is surrounded by Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. 203/208

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