GIANT CAR TRANSPORTER SINKS IN CHANNEL.
The Tricolor, a Norwegianregistered car carrier, collided with the Kariba, a container ship, 30 miles east of Ramsgate.
The cargo was made up of 2,862 top-of-the-range BMWs, Volvos and Saabs.
Some were to be unloaded in Southampton for sale in British showrooms before the Tricolor was to sail on to the US with the rest of the cargo, said Per Ronnevig, spokesman for shipping firm Wilhelmsen Lines.
The estimated value of the ship itself is pounds 25.1 million and the cargo between pounds 25 and pounds 31 million.
The Tricolor had picked up its cargo in Zebrugge, Belgium and was on its way to Southampton when it collided with the Kariba, a Bahamas-registered ship at about 1.30am yesterday, in thick fog east of Ramsgate, Kent.
The Tricolor, weighing nearly 50,000 tonnes, began to list and sank within an hour and a half.
A spokesman for Dover Coastguard said the crew of the Tricolor were forced to abandon ship.
They were picked up and taken to Dunkirk, and coastguards in France reported all the men 'safe and sound'.
The Kariba, which was severely damaged, was heading for Antwerp in Belgium .
Dover Coastguard said a Belgian warship was now in the area helping the French coastguard to deal with the incident.
A spokesman for the French coastguard said the Tricolor was resting on the bottom of the sea, but as the tide was low the boat was only partially submerged.