BAKU, July 26 (Reuters) – Azerbaijan rescued all nine crew members of an Iranian cargo vessel on Friday before it sunk in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s state maritime agency said.

Iran said the ship was owned by private sector, without giving details about the owner of the vessel.

“The ship was carrying tiles … all members of the crew, seven Iranians and two Indians, were rescued. It sank due to flooding,” the deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, Jalil Eslami, told the country’s state news agency IRNA.

He did not specify where on the vessel the flooding occurred.

Azerbaijan’s maritime agency said the vessel had sent a distress signal on Friday afternoon after getting into trouble near the Azeri port of Lenkoran.

Two helicopters and a border patrol vessel had then rushed to the area and rescued the ship’s crew, it said.

Eslami said the ship was heading to Russia’s Makhachkala port.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, Reporting by Nailia Bagirova Writing by Anton Kolodyazhny and Andrew Osborn Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)