6 Mar 2010

Ships freed from ice in Baltic Sea

6:36 am on 6 March 2010

Dozens of ships have been freed after being trapped in ice in the Baltic Sea off Stockholm, some for several days.

The Swedish Maritime Administration told the BBC that the last vessel was rescued from the waters between the capital and the Aland Islands early on Friday morning.

At least 26 ships are awaiting help further north in the Bay of Bothnia.

On Thursday, icebreakers had to be used to free a ferry, the Amorella, which had 943 passengers and crew on board.

Two other ferries, the Isabella and the Finnfellow, managed to break free on Thursday.

The maritime agency said sea ice in the area would not normally have been a problem for merchant ships.

However, onshore winds of about 72km per hour pushed the ice rapidly towards the coast and created ridges which the ships could not cope with. Icebreakers were deployed by Sweden and Finland.

Weather conditions are expected to improve on Friday.