Deadly weekend claims five at Swedish beaches

Five people drowned across Sweden at the weekend, including a grandmother and her grandson, as record warmth drew Swedes to the country's still chilly waters.

Deadly weekend claims five at Swedish beaches

On Saturday, a 68-year-old woman drowned while trying to save her two grandsons who had strayed too far from a beach in southern Stockholm.

While she managed to pull one of the boys to shore, the woman then died trying to save the second grandson.

The boy was eventually pulled from the water and rushed to hospital, but died later that evening.

The deadly weekend has prompted a warning from the Swedish Life Saving Society (Svenska Livräddningssällskapet – SLS) cautioning would-be bathers about misjudging exactly how cold Swedish waters are.

“When the weather is nice, there are a lot of people who want to go swimming because they think the water is fine. But it’s still quite cold and the body can become chilled quickly at such temperatures,” Anders Wernesten of the SLS told the TT news agency.

The group predicts that 2012 is on its way to becoming a tough year when it comes to Sweden’s drowning statistics.

“We’re already seeing that the number of accidents this year is going to surpass last year’s figures,” said Wernesten.

The final weekend in May turned out to be an especially deadly one at Sweden’s bathing areas.

In addition to the drowning deaths of the 68-year-old grandmother and her 7-year-old grandson in Stockholm, a man who went out for a swim at the Bergsjö bathing area in Gothenburg also died on Saturday evening.

Also in western Sweden, an elderly woman drowned in Varberg, while a man in his forties was found lifeless in the water near Alingsås.

“It’s important to stay close to shore and try to keep your body temperature up if you fall in the water without a life jacket. But the most important things is to be in the company of others and not to go swimming alone,” said Wernesten.

TT/The Local/dl

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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.