The Cemfjord, which went down off the Orkneys Shipspotting.com

A major search and rescue operation is underway in the Pentland Firth between Orkney and Caithness in northern Scotland after the wreckage of the Cemfjord cargo ship was spotted by a passing ferry.

As yet there has been no reported sighting of eight men believed to be aboard the boat, which is Cypriot-registered and was carrying cement to Runcorn, Cheshire.

A search operation is now underway, coordinated by Shetland Coastguard and involving at least four lifeboats from Stromness, Scrabster, Longhope and Wick, along with two helicopters and other vessels. The RAF is also involved in the search.

The last confirmed sighting of the vessel was on Friday and crew from the ferry Hrossey raised the alarm after seeing wreckage at 2:30pm on 3 January.