New York (Mar. 10)
– The Coast Guard and Navy were continuing their sea-air search today for 12 crewmen still missing from the Israeli bulk carrier Mezada which sank Sunday morning about 95 miles east of Bermuda. Twelve crewmen were confirmed to have died in the worst disaster ever to strike Israel’s merchant marine, and 12 were rescued, including the one woman aboard. The Zim Lines in New York, owners of the vessel, identified her as Mrs. Mali Staier, wife of the ship’s wireless officer. The rescued are aboard merchant ships or in Bermuda.
Chief Warrant Officer Michael O’Brian of the Coast Guard in New York told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this morning that the search for the missing men would continue at least through today in the area where the ship went down. It is being conducted by the USS Paul, a Navy frigate carrying helicopters, and by Orion P-3 Navy reconnaissance planes and Coast Guard C-130 aircraft. O’Brian said the wind and seas have moderated and conditions were “good” for the search.
The Mezada, which sailed from Ashdod three weeks ago with a cargo of potash, ran into gale force winds over the weekend and battled 24-foot waves. She sent out her first distress signal on Saturday and on Sunday the Coast Guard received a message saying the vessel was sinking and the crew was abandoning ship.
When rescue planes reached the scene they found lifeboats and life rafts with survivors and other crew members in the sea clinging to debris, but no sign of the 600-foot ship. The Mezada was built in Hamburg in 1960 for the Zim Lines under terms of the West German-Israel reparations agreement.