A large cargo ship carrying more than 14,000 sheep has overturned off the coast of Romania, with rescuers scrambling to save the animals.

The Queen Hind capsized on Sunday morning after leaving the port of Midia, near the south-eastern city of Constanța, on the Black Sea coastline.

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All crew members – 22 Syrian nationals – were rescued.

An operation involving police, firefighters and the Romanian coast guard was launched to save the sheep.

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At least 32 sheep found swimming near the Palau-flagged ship have been rescued, but many are believed to have drowned.

“We have already saved a small number. They were swimming in the sea,” Ana-Maria Stoica, spokeswoman for the emergency services in Constanța, told the BBC.

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The rescue effort will resume on Monday morning after being paused overnight.

Meanwhile, one crew member was taken to hospital with hypothermia.

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“He fell into the sea but was very quickly rescued,” Ms Stoica said, adding that the rest of the crew were “all safe here in the harbour”.

It is not yet known what caused the ship to capsize. An investigation will be carried out when the operation to rescue the sheep and salvage the vessel is finished, authorities said.

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