More than 400 people stranded after ferry runs aground in Finland
Posted November 21, 2020 11:50 p.m. EST
CNN — Some 331 passengers and 98 crew members are stranded after the MS Viking Grace, a large passenger ferry, ran aground Saturday afternoon off the coast of Mariehamn, in the Finnish archipelago of the Aland Islands, according to the Finnish Coast Guard.
No initial injuries were reported in the incident as the Viking Line ferry was sailing between Stockholm, Sweden, and Turku, Finland, with a brief stopover planned in Mariehamn.
According to a statement released by Viking Line in Finland, the ship became stranded just off the shore at 3:49 p.m. (8:49 a.m. ET). CNN affiliate MTV3 reported that strong winds were blowing in the area at the time of the ship's grounding.
Social media videos from witnesses on the island showed stormy waves lashing against the bow of the vessel as it sat wedged against the shoreline.
Divers from the Finnish Coast Guard examined the hull of the stranded ship and said it was not taking on water or leaking fuel. The passengers were told that they would remain on board overnight but would be rescued on Sunday.
"Tomorrow morning there will be plans to evacuate via tugboats," Lt. Lars Saarinen of the West Finland Coast Guard District told CNN.
Measuring 218 meters (about 238 yards) in length with 10 decks, the MS Viking Grace was built to carry close to 3,000 passengers, but capacity on board has been restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Viking operates several ferries a day between Turku and Stockholm, which is about a 10-hour journey one-way.
This is the second Viking Line ship to be grounded off the Aland islands, a Swedish-speaking region of Finland located in the Baltic Sea, in the past two months.
In September, another Viking Line passenger ferry, the MS Amorella, also ran aground on the Aland Islands. Narrow passageways and shallow waters are a defining feature of the waters around the islands, making it a challenging area in which to operate big ships.