Ships collide off Dutch coast, one sinking: Dutch media

Dutch sea rescue services launched a major rescue operation Wednesday after two ships collided in a busy North Sea shipping lane off the coast of Rotterdam, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

"A helicopter and two rescue ships are underway to the scene while other ships in the area also made their way there," it said, saying that one of the ships is believed to be sinking.

The collision happened at around 7:15 pm (1815 GMT) when the ships identified as the Bahaman-registered autoship Baltic Ace and the Corvus J out of Cyprus crashed into each other about 100 kilometres (60 miles) off Rotterdam.

It was unknown whether there were any casualties and the Dutch Coast Guard could not immediately be reached for comment.

The shipping lane where the accident happened is one of the busiest in the North Sea and an important passing point for ships sailing into the Rotterdam port, Europe's largest and the fifth-largest in the world.

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