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German Captain Accused of Failing to Aid Israeli Ship in Distress

The German shipping firm of Rudolf A. Cetker today relieved the captain of a tanker of his command, pending investigation of charges that he failed to aid an Israeli freighter which sank only a few miles from his ship. The company refused to publish the name of the captain. A company spokesman said the captain was ordered to return to Hamburg immediately to explain his actions during the sinking of the Israeli ship “Hashlosha” off Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, last week.

Israel had asked Bonn to probe reports that the 45,000-ten German vessel “St. Michaelis” failed to respond to flares and SOS signals from the “Hashlosha” only six nautical miles away. The Israeli ship was bound from Sicily to Marseilles with 20 person aboard. No survivors were found.

The captain reportedly said he saw flares, but thought it was some sort of naval exercise. He said his ship heard the radio distress signals but that they were garbled and not dispatched properly.

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