A Polish ferry capsized and sank during a fierce storm in the Baltic Sea on Thursday, and German television said 52 people were believed to have died.
Fourteen people were saved, according to rescue workers, after a storm packing winds of up to 90 mph raged across the Baltic and apparently caused the ferry to capsize early Thursday morning. Many passengers jumped into the ice-cold waters, officials said.Earlier reports had a lower death toll from the 60 people aboard the Polish ferry, which German police in Stralsund said sank between Poland and Sweden, about 20 miles east of the German island of Ruegen.
Estimates of the number of people on board the 412-foot Jan Heweliusz varied. During its main midday newscast, Germany's ARD television said 52 people were believed dead.
Helmut Meier, a spokesman for the German Navy fleet command in the northern coastal town of Gluecksburg, said, "We've got 14 alive."
He said chances of finding another survivor believed to be in a lifeboat were unlikely.
The ship was carrying 29 crew members and 39 passengers from Swinoujscie, Poland, to the Swedish port of Ystad, according to Wlodzimierz Matuszewski, director of the Polish company that owns the vessel.
However, initial reports from police and other officials said there were 60 people on board and that the ferry was heading in the opposite direction.