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BRITISH CARGO SHIP SINKING EAST OF FLORIDA

A British-owned cargo ship was sinking in rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean today, and U.S. helicopters were heading to the scene to rescue 28 crew members, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The 493-foot Merchant Patriot was foundering 270 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Fla. A water pipe had ruptured in the engine room, flooding the vessel, Coast Guard Petty Officer Veronica Badrowsky said. The ship was fighting high winds and waves 9 to 11 feet high, she said.

"The safety of the crew is paramount at the moment. Our main concern is to get them off," a spokesman for the ship's owners said from London.

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