500 sailors trapped in icy water off Russia's northern Pacific coast

Moscow:  Ice-breakers have been working to help free several ships trapped in the Sea of Okhotsk, off of Russia's northern Pacific coast.

The Tass news agency reported that one ice-breaker wasn't enough to get the fishing trawler Mys Elizaveta away from ice as thick as two meters -- some six and a-half feet -- so a second was brought in to help free the vessel and another nearby.

Officials of the Far East shipping company that owns the ice-breakers were consulting on the situation.

Vyacheslav Nagonyuk is director of the special fleet department. He said the plan is to tow the vessels to safety.

But a favorable weather window won't last, according to company engineer Hydrologist engineer Nikolai Shatalin.

"On 4th and 5th of January we'll have a break in heavy wind, but after that the Sea of Okhotsk will see another cyclone," he said.

The FESCO icebreakers have their work cut out for them. There are three more ships in the vicinity that've been trapped by ice since Friday.

But Russia's transportation ministry says none of the 500 sailors aboard the five vessels are in immediate danger.
Story First Published: January 05, 2011 15:44 IST

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