Seven of the 12 crew members of a dry cargo carrier are missing after the vessel sank in the Black Sea. Crimean rescuers plucked out five survivors from the waters after the Turkey-bound vessel capsized.

The Geroi Arsenala sent a distress signal on Wednesday, 19 April prompting the Crimean department of the Russian emergencies ministry to spring into action. More than 100 emergency personnel have been deployed to find the missing crew members.

It is still unclear what caused the ship to sink. "The Geroi Arsenala sank, five people have been rescued, the search for seven people is underway," a source told Russia's Sputnik news agency.

The Russian emergencies ministry had earlier said the cargo vessel went off the radar when it was sailing in the Kerch Strait – the waters connecting the Crimean peninsula and mainland Russia.

Crimea, formerly a Ukrainian territory, officially became part of Russia in April 2014 after intense conflict in the region.