Search for missing crew suspended
The search for the eight missing crew members of a sunken cargo ship has been suspended.
A major search effort was mounted after the upturned hull of the Cypriot-registered Cemfjord was spotted in the waters of the Pentland Firth, north of Scotland, on Saturday.
Lifeboats were stood down earlier this afternoon and returned to shore.
Helicopter, coastguard rescue teams, fixed wing aircraft and HMS Somerset continued to search until last light.
There has been no sign of the eight crew members, made up of seven Poles and one Filipino.
The 83-metre bulk cement carrier, which had been bound for Runcorn, Cheshire, on the west coast of the UK, sank below the water earlier this afternoon.
The Coastguard will continue to broadcast messages to all shipping requesting that they are informed about any information or sightings that could be related to the vessel.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed and is about to begin work on the investigation.
The families of the missing crew have been notified.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the search had involved two helicopters and four lifeboats, assisted by coastguard rescue teams from Kirkwall, St Margaret's Hope, Duncansby, Scrabster and Wick.
HMS Somerset and its helicopter also joined the search.
RNLI lifeboats covered an area of 200 square miles until they were stood down early this afternoon.
Andrew Ashton, RNLI divisional operations manager, said: "The RNLI crews from Thurso, Wick, Longhope and Stromness have worked tirelessly to search a massive area.
"This has been a challenging operation for all our RNLI volunteers and the other rescue organisations involved and our thoughts are very much with the missing men and their families at this time."
Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Our thoughts are with the families of the missing crew at this difficult time.
"Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government stand ready to assist if required."
The last confirmed sighting of the ship was at about 1pm on Friday.
The crew on the NorthLink ferry Hrossey alerted the Coastguard after spotting its upturned hull around 10 miles east of the Pentland Skerries, about 15 miles from Wick at around 2.30pm on Saturday.
German shipping company Brise of Hamburg, which manages the ship, confirmed that there were eight people on board, adding that there had been no distress call.
Hrossey passenger Caitlin Ditchfield told BBC News: "We realised we had actually stopped. Looking out the window my sister noticed the hull of this giant ship, sort of out of the ocean.
"We didn't move for a while from when we saw it. The captain gave an announcement to say they had contacted the coastguard, that we were actually the first to come across this, and they had asked us to start conducting a search for any debris or any lifeboats."
She said it has been "quite a rough crossing" but added that conditions were "not too bad" when they spotted the overturned vessel.