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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 19:17 GMT
Search for Swedish sailor ended
Finnbirch listing heavily
Twelve crew members survived the sinking
Swedish rescuers have called off a search for the last missing crew member from a cargo ship that capsized and sank in the Baltic Sea on Wednesday.

Rescuers said the missing sailor was almost certainly dead after spending more than 12 hours in freezing water.

Thirteen of the ship's 14 crew were airlifted to safety, but one, a Filipino, later died in hospital.

Northern Europe experienced heavy snowfalls, high winds and freezing temperatures on Wednesday.

Land, air and sea transport services were disrupted across Scandinavia and power cuts affected 50,000 people in Sweden.

The storms have now moved away, although some continuing transport disruption was reported in Sweden on Thursday.

And the bridge linking Denmark and Sweden was closed for two hours on Thursday morning after large pieces of ice started falling from steel wires overhead, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Sitting on the hull

Rescuers said there was no longer any point in continuing the search for the missing sailor.

Line of traffic stuck near Enkoping, central Sweden
Storms disrupted transport services in parts of Scandinavia

"It was judged that he could no longer be alive by 0600 [0500 GMT] this morning, at which time we decided to call off the search," said Kjell Abrahamsson, spokesman for the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Helicopters lifted 13 crew members from the ship despite heavy winds, snow and 5m (16ft) waves.

The crew members were flown to a hospital in Kalmar on the Swedish mainland, suffering from hypothermia.

Earlier, officials reported the ship was on its side and the crew were sitting on the hull.

Oil problems

The roll-on, roll-off Finnbirch was on its way from Helsinki in Finland to Aarhus in Denmark when it capsized and sank between the islands of Oland and Gotland, with a crew of 10 Filipinos and four Swedes on board.

The ship had 260 metric tons of oil on board, some of which has leaked out. Coastguards are said to be monitoring the leak.

It is not clear what caused the sinking.

North Sea oil production has also been affected by the storms.

An oil rig which broke away from a tow ship in the North sea on Tuesday is still drifting, but owner Fred Olsen Energy SA said the platform was under control and the crew safe.

Meanwhile BP was forced to shut its 90,000 barrel-a-day Valhall platform to evaluate storm damage.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Sweden
18 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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