Six hundred sailors imperiled in Far-Eastern ice trap

RIA Novosti / Sergey Krasnouhov
Ten vessels with about 600 people total onboard are trapped in ice near Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. A rescue operation has been launched on Friday, after crews decided that they cannot handle the situation on their own.

The ships were in the Sakhalin Gulf north of the island to shelter from an incoming storm, when on Monday ice started forming on the water. Over the week the temperature went even lower, and the ice shield became up to 30cm thick, immobilizing the vessels, reports Interfax news agency.

There are several fishing vessels, a floating fish processing plant, a freighter and a science research vessel in need of help.

The crews have enough supplies and their lives are not in danger. The first of three tow ships sent to the rescue is to enter the ice field by Friday night.