Five sailors were feared dead following a collision at sea between a Soviet tanker and a Soviet Antarctic research ship on Wednesday (31 October).
Five sailors were feared dead following a collision at sea between a Soviet tanker and a Soviet Antarctic research ship on Wednesday (31 October). The accident happened in the Great Belt seaway between the Danish islands of Zealand an Funen.
SYNOPSIS: The Olenek was bound for Antarctica loaded with stores and equipment, including an aircraft and helicopters, for research expeditions on the polar ice. The Olenek was seriously damaged. Many were injured in the collision. Despite poor ???bility a large rescue operation was launched. The Danish Navy, the West German Coast guard and shipping in the area helped search for survivors. Ninety four crew and passengers on the Olenek were taken to safety. Some of them were lifted from the ship by helicopters.
The Olenek caught fire following the collision in the busy shipping route. She later split in two. Among those on board were forty-one scientists bound for Antarctica. The Olenek had left on her voyage to the southern oceans from Leningrad. The cause of the collision was not quickly established. It was known that at the time, visibility was poor and the seas were stormy.
The other ship involved was the 15,000 ton tanker the General Shkodunovich. She was carrying a cargo of molasses. She was less severely damaged and all her crew were reported to be safe.
The rescued Russians were taken to ports in Denmark and West Germany. Soon after the event, one man was confirmed dead, four were missing. The dead man was believed to be from a Swedish rescue ship.