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13 drown, 8 missing after overloaded skiff capsizes in Gulf of Aden

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The vessel was packed with 85 people
  • The U.S. Navy attempted to tow it to safety
  • It capsized when its passengers rushed to one side of the vessel to get supplies from sailors

(CNN) -- Thirteen people drowned and eight are missing after a small skiff packed with more than 80 people capsized Monday while getting aid from a U.S. Navy vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

The skiff, packed with 75 Ethiopians and 10 Somalis, was spotted adrift by a South Korean warship, which asked the guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill to provide assistance, according to a statement from the Combined Maritime Forces, which conducts anti-piracy patrols off the east coast of Africa.

The 9,500-ton, 513-foot-long Churchill sent an inflatable boat to the aid of the skiff. After determining the skiff was without power, the inflatable towed it out of shipping lanes toward the Somali coast, the statement said.

The vessel capsized when U.S. sailors attempted to distribute fresh supplies to those aboard. As they did so, the Africans rushed to one side of the vessel, capsizing it, and sending all 85 passengers into the ocean.

Crews from the Churchill and an Australian patrol aircraft were able to rescue 61 of the skiff's passengers.

Thirteen drowned and eight were not found, the statement said.

The Navy is investigating the incident.