Europe

Dutch ferry captain feared drowned after collision

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Geraldine Coughlan describes the scene of the crash

A body has been recovered from the site of a collision near Amsterdam between a German cargo ship and a small passenger ferry, Dutch police say.

The ship hit the ferry in a canal 10km (6 miles) south of the city early on Friday morning.

Police believe the body is that of the ferry captain, as it is believed he was the only person on the vessel and is missing after the accident.

The foot-passenger ferry - which can carry about 15 people - capsized.

Earlier reports in Dutch media suggested some passengers might have been thrown into the water.

Divers have been searching for possible victims and a helicopter was deployed to search the canal with a thermal imager.

A Dutch police spokeswoman told the BBC the skipper was still missing some three hours after the collision.

"We know the first hour is crucial to rescue someone from the water, so of course we continue looking, but the chances that he is still alive are small, if he (is) in the water," spokeswoman Carine Porgengen said.

Some reports suggest the ferry may have come loose from its mooring.

It often carries school children but they are on their autumn holiday this week, says Dutch broadcaster Radio Netherlands. It said the ferry was going to pick up its first passengers when the accident happened.

The missing skipper has manned the ferry for two years, officials were quoted as saying by Dutch NOS broadcaster.

Traffic on the canal has been halted, and a police investigation is under way.

Police have already questioned the captain of the freight vessel, which is moored near the scene. He tested negative for alcohol.

The canal connects Amsterdam to the Rhine River - a major European shipping artery.