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20 injured in ship’s emergency drill

Maritime safety authorities are investigating an Eckerö Line training exercise in which 20 people were injured.

Pelastusveneitä MS Finlandian vierellä sekä ns. pelastussukka laivan kyljessä Tallinnan satamassa pelastusharjoituksen aikana.
An evacuation drill on a Finnish-flagged vessel went wrong in Tallinn this week. Image: D. Stenbäck / Trafi

The firm's new M/S Finlandia was tested this Tuesday in Tallinn.

Several crew members suffered broken bones, some sprained ankles and some burn injuries from trying to slow their descent during the 14 metre drop into a life raft in Tallinn.

The drill was only suspended when Eckerö staff refused to follow their colleagues down the chute, which was produced by the Danish firm DBC Marine.

”The exercise should have been called off as soon as the injuries came,” said Juha-Matti Korsi, unit head at the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi.

Trafi had an inspector on the scene but he was watching from the shore 100 metres away and was unaware of any injuries. The organisation has asked Eckerö Line for an explanation of the difficulties.

'Unsuitable and dangerous'

”If I’d known of the injuries, of course I would have intervened in the matter,” said Dan Stenbeck. ”When I went on the ship at the end of the exercise, even then nobody told me about injuries. I only saw one person limping a little.”

Eckerö Line Managing Director Irja Hanelius could not say why staff had been injured or why the exercise wasn’t suspended earlier. The matter is under investigation and psychological support has been arranged for staff who participated in the exercise.

Ilpo Minkkinen of the Finnish Seamen’s Union visited the ship today. He has viewed a video of the evacuation and in his opinion the system used is unsuitable and dangerous. It is however EU-approved and in use on several vessels.

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