Stranded Russian Cargo Ship With 30 Crew 'Could Sink' in Icy Sea

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A Russian cargo ship with 30 crew members was stranded in icy waters off eastern Russia on Friday, and several other vessels were trying to reach it, officials said.

The Smolninsky refrigerated vessel 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.

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 — including the rescue ship for an oil rig — had set course for the Smolninsky to rescue the all-Russian crew. Rafikov said later that one of the ships had established radio contact with the Smolninsky as it headed its way in an effort to evacuate the crew.

Rafikov said that winds in the area had eased and that the Smolninsky's position was stable.

Ivelsky said authorities would also try to send helicopters to the ship first thing Saturday, 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.