By Costas Paris
U.S. rescuers found four missing crew members alive in an overturned automobile-transport ship off the Georgia coast on Monday and were planning to try to pull them from the wrecked vessel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard said in Twitter post that the conditions of the crew members were not known but that salvage crews had made contact with them and were trying to determine how to extract them safely.
The 660-foot Golden Ray is operated by South Korea's Hyundai Glovis , the car shipping arm of Hyundai Motors, which runs about 60 similar car carriers.
The ship capsized off St. Simons island shortly after it left the Port of Brunswick, Ga., on its way to Baltimore. The Coast Guard, which rescued 19 crew members and a ship pilot from Brunswick, said the cause of the accident was being investigated.
"The most common cause of a ship capsizing is cargo instability," said Fotis Pagoulatos, an Athens-based naval architect. "If cargo is not properly secured it could move to one side, the vessel loses its balance and lies on its side."
A Hyundai Glovis executive said, "There was some kind of an internal fire that could not be controlled and then it capsized."
Traffic at the Port of Brunswick has been suspended to facilitate the rescue operations.
The crew were South Koreans and Filipinos.
Coast Guard Capt. John Reed told reporters late Sunday that it was too dangerous for rescue teams to go inside the vessel. "Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew members who remain on board," Capt. Reed said.
The Port of Brunswick is a main car terminal in the U.S. East Coast for importing and exporting vehicles, moving more than 600,000 cars and heavy machinery units in the 2019 fiscal year, ended in June. The Golden Ray had some 4,200 cars on board. It was set to sail to the Middle East after Baltimore.
Some of the rescued crew were hoisted into helicopters, while others climbed down on ropes and fire hoses into rescue boats.
The Coast Guard said there were no oil spills sighted in the sea area around the Golden Ray.
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