Official: Rescuers Reach Stranded Russian Ship

MOSCOW (AP) — A rescue ship reached a Russian cargo vessel stranded in icy waters off eastern Russia on Friday night and prepared to evacuate its 30 crew members, officials said.

The Smolninsky refrigerated ship was being battered by heavy winds and listing dangerously to its port side in the Sea of Okhotsk, which separates Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula from the mainland, said Gusman Rafikov, a duty officer for a search and rescue center on nearby Sakhalin Island.

Rafikov said the rescue vessel reached the Smolninsky and was preparing to evacuate its crew.

Ice had formed on the ship and the crew was trying to chip it off, he said.

The Smolninsky’s captain sent a distress call Friday morning, said local Emergencies Ministry spokesman Alexander Ivelsky. “There is the fear that the ship could sink,” he said.

Nearby vessels headed to the area.

Rafikov said the rescue ship was maintaining radio contact with the Smolninsky as it was helping stabilize it and preparing to evacuate the crew on Friday night.

Rafikov said that winds in the area had eased and that the Smolninsky was staying afloat.

Ivelsky said authorities would also try to send helicopters to the ship Saturday morning, weather-permitting.

The ship collects fresh fish from local boats and delivers the catch to local ports, cleaning, processing and canning much of the produce en route.

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