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Thursday's papers: Storm rocks cruise ships, Migri to update security assessments, wolves spotted in southern Finland

Thursday morning's press reports on powerful southerly winds which blasted southern and western Finland overnight. The Finnish Immigration Service, Migri, says that it plans to issue a new security assessment on Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia next week. There have been several reports of wolf sightings in Uusimaa, not far from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Powerful winds hit southern and western parts of Finland overnight - with wind speeds reaching up to 25 metres per second, causing 11-metre-high waves in coastal areas - have caused power outages to thousands of homes, according to Ilta-Sanomat.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute issued warnings for strong southerly winds in the area, including Satakunta, Pirkanmaa, southern Ostrobothnia and Ostrobothnia.

The stormy winds also caused problems for cruise ships traversing the Baltic Wednesday night, according to tabloid Iltalehti. The windy weather caused the cruise ship Viking Grace - which shuttles passengers to and from Turku, Finland, Mariehamn, Åland and Stockholm, Sweden - to hit the dock at Mariehamn Wednesday night, causing a large dent on the hull above the car deck.

Viking Line's communications officer Johanna Boijer-Svahnström told the paper that "collision" was the wrong word for the incident, and said the damage was not significant.

"There's a pretty terrible storm here at the moment, with 12-metre waves," Boijer-Svahnström was quoted, saying that the conditions were causing problems for the cruise liner.

IS reports that road conditions will be poor on Thursday, particularly in the southwest, the regions of Uusimaa, Tavastia, Kymenlaakso and in southern Karelia, due to snow and sleet.

Migri to issue new Iraq security assessments

In a brief published by the Swedish-language paper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) the Finnish Immigration Service, Migri, has plans to issue new security assessments on Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia next week.

Security assessments enable the agency to determine whether asylum applicants can be returned to their home countries or not. Last year Migri tightened their assessments of those countries, effectively providing grounds to reject the applications of some asylum seekers from those regions.

HBL reports that Migri also plans to issue an update about the jurisprudence of asylum application rejection appeals of 2016.

Compared to the previous year, the number of asylum seekers arriving to Finland decreased significantly in 2016. Fewer than 5,700 people applied for asylum last year - while more than 32,000 people applied for asylum in 2015, the paper wrote.

Wolves in suburban southern Finland?

Ilta-Sanomat reports about several new sightings of wolves in suburban areas of southern Finland's district of Uusimaa the past few days. An expert told the paper that it's not a question of a lone wolf.

The paper writes that at least two sightings of wolves were made earlier this week around the town of Klaukkala.

"It was an unbelievable and amazing feeling [to see the wolf]" said local resident Jori Pitkänen who lives near the forest. "We ran to the door and watched it and then it moved on." The online version of the paper posted photos of some of the wolves.

Vantaa's game management association director, Martti Palokas, told the paper that it's difficult to be sure from witness photos and videos he's seen, but that the pictures do indicate it is indeed a question of wolves.

Several more sightings were reported a day later, on Monday, less than 10 km away in the Syväjoki area of Vantaa. This time there were many witnesses and the wolf was reported several times, the paper writes.

Local resident Niko Sundberg said he saw a wolf about 30 metres away from where he was standing.

"When I saw it I just froze, I whistled a little, and then it ran away. I'm 95 percent sure that it was a wolf," Sundberg told the paper.

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