BAKU, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Twelve crew members of an Iranian dry cargo ship were poisoned and three of them died Friday as the vessel was approaching Baku, according to Azerbaijan's Ministry of Health.
Azerbaijan's Border Guard Service said it received a distress signal from the Nazmehr dry cargo ship en route from the western Kazakh city of Aktau when it was 21 miles (33.8 km) from Pirallahi island near Azerbaijan's capital.
Azerbaijani border guard ships rushed to help the poisoned sailors, said Spokesman for the Ministry of Health Parviz Abubakurov.
"Unfortunately, three crew members already died before the border guard vessels arrived at the scene. Other sailors were hospitalized after being provided with emergency medical aid. The captain refused to be hospitalized," he said.
According to the preliminary diagnosis, the sailors were poisoned by a chemical.