The crew, from the Philippines and Sweden, wore survival suits and were in radio contact with nearby ships but were unable to launch life rafts. The high seas and heavy winds between the Swedish islands of Gotland and Öland made it impossible for rescuers to approach the vessel, which had capsized in waves as high as 5 metres .
The crew jumped into the water and were winched to safety by rescue helicopters in a daring operation. One of the crew, who were all suffering from hypothermia and shock, died later at a hospital on the Swedish mainland.
The roll-on, roll-off vessel was on its way from Helsinki in Finland to Denmark when it got caught up in a storm that lashed northern Europe on Wednesday with icy winds, snow and sleet. The freighter was listing badly for hours before she sank. Ship owner Lindholm Shipping said they could only speculate on the cause. There was 260 tons of oil aboard the ship but the coast guard said that it was not clear how much of it had leaked out.