A Dominica-flagged dry cargo ship sank at berth in the besieged southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol after being targeted by Russian missile strikes.
The Dominica registry said that the Azburg was heavily fired upon after intentionally shelling the vessel twice a day earlier.
“The vessel was heavily fired upon by Russian armed forces. Specific characteristics of firing on the vessel remain unknown, crew reported shelling, bombing and repeated hits by missiles, causing a fire in the engine room.”
Eric Dawicki, deputy administrator of maritime affairs with the registry, said the vessel sank early on Tuesday. He noted that the registry assumed the sinking would create some environmental impediments.
“It certainly will create navigational impediments at the dock and we are certainly concerned,” Dawicki told Reuters.
“The indiscriminate shelling of a merchant vessel with a civilian crew with no place to seek refuge is the lowest of lows,” Dawicki added.
One of the 12 crew members required medical treatment while the remaining crew were evacuated onto nearby vessels.
The vessel arrived in Mariupol on February 23 and was unable to leave Ukrainian waters because of the closure of the port, according to British security company Ambrey Intelligence and the registry.
UN shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said there were 86 merchant ships still stuck in Ukrainian ports and waters as of March 30, with around 1,000 seafarers unable to sail.
Russian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moscow has said that it is not targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarize Ukraine.