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VLADIVOSTOK, January 5 (Itar-Tass) — The transport refrigerator Irina, which was abandoned by the crew on Wednesday near the Kuril island of Kunashir, has endured the impact of a storm and remains afloat.
"The ship is lying at anchor, down by the stern. Wind velocity in the area is 15 metres per second, and waves are up to two metres high. The safety of the stricket transport ship is ensured by the rescue boat Suvorovets. Yet another sea-going rescue boat, the Atlas, is about to aproach the Irina," the Vladivostok-based sea rescue coordinating center reported. The Atlas has been assigned to ensure the refrigerator's ecological safety. The Suvorovets is planning to tow the Irina to Vladivostok.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Irina are still aboard the transport refrigerator Tatarstan which took them on board. The Tatarstan is also lying at anchor off Kunashir, awaiting further instructions concerning those rescued.
The refrigerator Irina met with an emergency situation when proceeding on her way from the fishery ground in the Sea of Okhotsk to Vladivostok. The transport was caught by a storm near the South Kuriles. During a turning maneuver, the ship touched the ground with propeller. The engine got stalled, and water started pouring into the engine room through a hole. The wind forced the ship to heel, from three to ten degrees. The shipmaster of the Irina decided to evacuate the 19-member crew -- all citizens of Russia. TheTatarstan, which was at a distance of eight cable's lengths (about 1.5 kilometres) from the stricken ship, came to the aid of those in distress. The Tatarstan moored broadside to the Irina and took the entire crew on board. No one was hurt during the rescue operation.
Apart from the cargo -- 560 tonnes of fish, the refrigerator Irina also carries 105 tonnes of fuel oil, 40 tonnes of diesel fuel, and six tonnes of lubricating oil.
The rescue boat Suvorovets, which approached the refirigerator on the night from Wednesday to Thursday, did not detect any oilspill. On Thursday the damage-control parties of the Suvorovets and the Atlas are to board the ship Irina to assess what must be done for the salvation of the vessel.