Two Ruhnu ferry passengers injured in rough seas, vessel returns to port

Stormy seas (photo is illustrative).
Stormy seas (photo is illustrative). Source: Margus Muld/ERR

Two passengers on a ferry traveling to the island of Ruhnu were injured in stormy conditions Monday. The vessel had also been experiencing technical issues, and had to return to port in Pärnu.

One of the injured reportedly broke their leg, with both passengers requiring an ambulance after docking in Pärnu. Several other passengers also reported feeling seasick.

Maintenance work had been carried out on the ferry, a catamaran called the Runö, on Monday, Andres Laasma, manager of ferry line Kihnu Veeteed, told ERR's Estonian news.

However, it still developed engine trouble en route to Ruhnu, which lies in the Gulf of Riga, around 60 km southwest of Pärnu, and was forced to turn back in choppy seas, Laasma said.

Passengers had been walking around on board at the time, with the rough weather causing one to slip and twist their ankle, and another to suffer a leg fracture after taking a wrong step.

"The crew has also given me an overview of the matter, which was just a coincidence of bad circumstances," Laasma said, adding that neither the weather nor the technical problems hindered the ferry's navigation back to Pärnu.

"There sea is choppy, and the vessel can pitch and move about; if a passenger does not remain seated or secure themselves correctly, then unfortunately incidents like the two today can happen."

An ambulance, rather than a helicopter, was sufficient to take the two injured individuals to hospital, Laasma added.

Many other passengers reported feeling seasick after the aborted journey; Laasma said that seasickness was a common phenomenon on the route and using the Runö, a fast catamaran.

The Runö is currently being checked over in Pärnu, to find out what the techinical issue is.

Islanders have in the past expressed concerns over the vessel's seaworthiness.

It will be able to resume journeys if and when these are solved; Laasma said that the most likely explanation was engine protection systems overriding and cutting off power.

State weather service issued Level 1 warning Tuesday

The State Weather Service (Riigi ilmateenistus) issued a Level 1 (lowest) warning earlier on Tuesday, for southern and eastern parts of the country.

Level one means: "The weather is potentially dangerous. Be attentive if you intend to practice activities exposed to meteorological risks. Keep informed about the forecast of meteorological conditions."

Tuesday is generally wet and windy across the country.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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