Sunday, January 24, 2010
Rescuers evacuated 11 people by helicopter yesterday morning from a Russian cargo vessel stranded in icy waters off the coast of eastern Russia, an official said. Russian officials say the evacuees have been flown on a privately owned helicopter to the town of Nogliki on nearby Sakhalin Island, which lies to the north of Japan. The Smolninsky refrigerated ship was battered by heavy winds on Friday, freezing it over and causing the vessel to list dangerously to its port side in the Sea of Okhotsk, which separates Russia's Kamchatka peninsula from the mainland.The Sakhalin rescue center's spokesman, Nikolai Ivanov, said the Smolninsky still has 20 crew members on board and is making slow progress to safer waters closer to the shore, some 55 kilometers away, in the hope of saving the vessel. The Smolninsky collects fresh fish from local boats and delivers the catch to local ports, cleaning, processing and canning en route. Ivanov said he had no information about whether the evacuees were fisheries workers or crew members. An icebreaker is sailing in the vicinity of the Smolninsky to ensure the safety of the crew.