COLOMBO (AFP) - A Sri Lankan navy craft was destroyed in a sea mine blast off the island`s north-eastern coast Saturday, leaving at least 11 sailors missing, a military source said.
Five sailors from the fast attack craft (FAC) were rescued by another boat patrolling the waters off the Tamil Tiger stronghold of Mullaitivu district, the source said.
``A survivor said his FAC started taking in water after a huge explosion,`` said the source, who declined to be named.
``They managed to get into a life raft which was picked up by another FAC in the area.``
A search was under way for the other 11 crewmen after the pre-dawn blast, which occurred as the attack craft were patrolling for suspected Tamil rebel activity.
Clashes between suspected Tamil Tiger ships and the Sri Lankan navy have escalated in recent months amid heavy fighting in the island`s northern and eastern regions.
In February, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels sank a speedboat near the maritime border with India
, leaving five sailors missing.
More than 5,400 people have been killed in a new wave of fighting since December 2005 when a Norwegian-brokered truce began to unravel.