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Newly restored historic sailing ship crashes and sinks days after relaunch

Jun 10, 2019, 5:55 AM
The 121-foot Elbe No. 5 collided with the 466-foot Astrosprinter, a Cyprus-flagged cargo ship, on t...
The 121-foot Elbe No. 5 collided with the 466-foot Astrosprinter, a Cyprus-flagged cargo ship, on the Elbe river near Hamburg, Germany on Saturday afternoon.

(CNN) — A historic sailing ship has crashed just days after taking to the water following an extensive renovation project.

The 121-foot Elbe No. 5 collided with the 466-foot Astrosprinter, a Cyprus-flagged cargo ship, on the Elbe river near Hamburg, Germany on Saturday afternoon, according to Wilfried Sprekels, a fire department official.

Eight passengers on board the Elbe No. 5 were injured in the collision at Stadersand, Sprekels told CNN. They were rescued from the boat and taken to different local hospitals.

Emergency services secured the ship because of fears of oil leaks and a rescue company will investigate the possibility of recovering the wreck, he added.

There were 43 people on board at the time, including 14 crew members, according to a statement from Hamburg police.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, but an investigation continues, police said.

The Hamburg Maritime Foundation, which owns the ship, released a statement on the accident.

“We are deeply saddened by the collision. Our thoughts are with the passengers and the members of the ship’s crew who were hurt,” read the statement.

The Elbe No. 5 was built in 1883, making it the city’s oldest fully wooden ship. It recently underwent significant renovation work, according to the foundation.

After decades as a pilot boat used to guide larger ships into Hamburg’s port, the Elbe No. 5 was sold to American journalist Warwick Tompkins, who used it as a houseboat.

In 2002, it was bought by the Hamburg Maritime Foundation and brought home to be used as a pleasure boat for tourists.

The renovation project was announced in September 2018 and on May 29 the Elbe No. 5 returned to its home port, according to a tweet from the maritime foundation.

Just over a week later, the collision wrecked the historic vessel.

Wolfgang Bentz, who was involved in the restoration, told German radio station NDR that he had watched over the wreck after the accident.

“I couldn’t sleep all night,” he said.

However, Bentz believes the Elbe No. 5 could sail again.

“It’s made of wood and had some damage before,” he told NDR. “Let’s see what further damage is added in the rescue effort.”

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