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Baltic ferries slammed for 'Titanic Syndrome'

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Baltic ferries slammed for 'Titanic Syndrome'
09:23 CET+01:00
The Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket) has sharply criticized ferry companies in the Baltic Sea for ignoring warnings and failing to change routes to avoid thick ice sheets.

Nearly 20 ferries were still stuck in the ice off Sweden's Baltic Sea coast on Saturday morning, following a week in which thousands of passengers were stranded on ships which became marooned between ice blocks up to 15 metres thick.

A number of ferries operating between Sweden and Finland took difficult ice-bound routes without contacting the ice breaker service and against the advice of maritime safety authorities, said Johnny Lindvall from the maritime administration's ice breaker service.

"They've got Titanic Syndrome - they think they are immortal," he told Svenska Dagbladet newspaper's on line edition.

However Jan Kårström, CEO of the Viking Lines ferry company said that the warnings came too late and a number of ferries were already stuck hard in the ice when the message was received.

The maritime administration has also criticized ships for ramming ice sheets at high speed in an attempt to break through. Lindvall said that the ferries irresponsible behaviour was using up scarce ice breaking resources.

"We don't have enough ice breakers to handle this number of stranded ships," he said.

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