Engine fire forces Baltic ferry evacuation

Eleven passengers were evacuated from the Sea Wind ferry early on Tuesday morning after a fire broke out in the boat’s main engine as it sailed near the Åland islands in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

Engine fire forces Baltic ferry evacuation

The ferry, which was on its way to Stockholm from the Finnish town of Åbo, sent out a distress call at 1.37am Swedish time that a fire had broken out on board.

The main engine was burning, but the boat was maneuverable as it passed by the Nyhamn lighthouse, around 18 kilometres south of Åland’s main port of Mariehamn.

“According to the information I’ve received, the fire was caused by a broken fuel line,” said the coast guard’s Gunnar Silander to Finnish news service FNB.

Coast guard boats from Mariehamn and Storklubb were called to help the troubled ferry. Other emergency boats and fire fighters from Mariehamn, as well as three helicopters also participated in the rescue mission.

When rescuers reached the ferry at about 3:00am, the crew had managed to extinguish the blaze.

On board the ship were 28 crew members and 11 passengers, none of whom had been injured.

The passengers, which included five Finns, five Estonians, and one person from Russia, were evacuated via helicopter to Mariehamn.

The crew remained onboard the ferry in order to help meet a tugboat which will tow the Sea Wind to an emergency harbour southeast of Mariehamn.

There the boat will await several other tugboats which will help bring the ferry back to Åbo.

The ferry, which is operated by a subsidiary of AS Tallink Group, was launched in 1972. It is 153 metres long, 22 metres wide, and can carry up to 120 passengers.


Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.