Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has ordered Minister of National Defense Raimundas Karoblis to involve all necessary forces in the rescue operation of a ferry on fire in the Baltic Sea, and the public must be fully informed.
"The prime minister has been informed about the incident and he's spoken to the minister of national defense. The prime minister said the public must receive all information and the rescue operation must involve all necessary forces from all state services," the prime minister's spokesman told BNS Lithuania.
A rescue operation is underway after a passenger ship with the Lithuanian flag caught fire in the Baltic Sea, the head of the Kaliningrad Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center, Andrei Permyakov, told the Russian news agency Interfax.
The fire broke out one the DFDS ferry Regina Seaway with more than 300 passengers on board, Lithuanian news websites report.
Colonel Dainius Gušas, commander of the Lithuanian Air Force, told BNS Lithuania a helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force had been sent to the area for reconnaissance purposes and several helicopters are on standby.
Attempts are being made on the ship to put the fire out, the military officer said, and people are being taken to a safe place.
The on duty Lithuanian navy ship Skalvis was immediately sent out. The rescue ship Šakiai is also being prepared. Other military navy ships will be sent out on demand.
“At the moment, a rescue operation is being prepared, the engine compartment’s crew have now left it. Rescue equipment is being prepared – inflatable boats, rafts. We have no information on any casualties.
The incidents occurred in international waters, in Russia’s exclusive economic zone and the Kaliningrad rescue department’s zone of responsibility.
The ferry was travelling from Kiel in Germany to Klaipėda.
There are 294 passengers and 42 crew members on the ferry,” the Lithuanian navy headquarters Civilian and Military Cooperation Department chief specialist section sergeant Audrius Vitkauskas told Delfi.
Meanwhile a representative from DFDS assures there was no explosion.
“To clarify, there was no explosion. Simply put, there are vibrations in the engine compartment and smoke appeared. The ship was transporting goods and passengers.
There are a total of 335 people on board, the question of towing is being considered and what to do with the passengers, perhaps they will be taken in by a different ship,” DFDS communications chief Vaidas Klumbys told Delfi.
According to the page Marine Traffic, the last recorded location of the Regina Seaways was noted to be near Denmark’s island of Bornholm.
Delfi reminds that the incident has occurred with a few days passing since the 24th anniversary commemorations of the ferry Estonia tragedy in the Baltic Sea. On September 29, 1994, 852 people died when the ferry Estonia capsized in the Baltic Sea.