One sailor has died and four remain missing after a British cargo ship sank in the North Sea after colliding with a larger freight vessel.

German maritime authorities say three people who were on board Verity have been rescued after it struck another ship in the German Bight on Tuesday morning.

Officials say one man was declared dead after he was pulled from the water and a search is continuing for four people who remain missing. 

One person was rescued earlier.

A search and rescue operation involving a P&O cruise liner and a German Navy Sea King was launched in the early hours on Tuesday after Verity collided with another freighter, called “Polesie”, near Heligoland in the North Sea.

The cause of the collision is being investigated but German media has reported Verity may have lost radio signal around an hour before the crash amid choppy conditions.

Verity, which sails under the British flag, was journeying from Bremen to Immingham, Lincolnshire, reportedly to deliver a shipment of steel. It was believed to have eight people on board.

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