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Stranded ‘Phantom’ menaces Swedish coast

Helicopters dashed to the rescue of the six-man crew of a merchant ship after it began listing heavily in the Baltic Sea, Sweden's coastguard said Thursday.

Stranded 'Phantom' menaces Swedish coast

The crew were winched to safety in darkness after the 80-metre vessel “Phantom” developed a heavy list late Wednesday shortly after leaving Oskarshamn in southern Sweden.

“It all went very quickly. We had to really rush there with helicopters, and the crew were chilled and had not even managed to get on their rescue suits. It was very worrying,” coastguard spokesman Jonas Andersson told AFP.

The Gibraltar-flag ship was carrying a cargo of timber to Casablanca.

The mainly-Russia crew were flown to hospital in Kalmar but were “doing well, considering the circumstances,” Andersson said.

Efforts are being made to try to prevent the ship from drifting onto the shore of the nearby island of Öland

“There is still a very big risk it will flip over and sink. We do not know how close it is to doing so,” Andersson said.

“It doesn’t look good.”

Swedish media reported a sudden shifting of the ship’s cargo could have caused the list.

On Thursday, a coastguard ship was working to keep the disabled vessel and its 31 cubic metres of diesel fuel from reaching land and other larger coastguard vessel was expected to arrive later in the day to assist in the operation in hopes of towing the “Phantom” to a harbour.

“At the moment, it’s hard to say how it will end,” Andersson told the TT news agency, describing the situation as a race against time.

“But it’s a risky endeavour to tow this ship because she’s listing so heavily. The risk of a total wreck is pretty high.”

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ACCIDENT

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.

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