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Russia Sends Additional Icebreaker to Free Icebound Ships

An icebreaker making its way to a trapped vessel (file photo)

Russia has sent an additional icebreaker into the frozen Sea of Okhotsk to free a group of ships trapped in thick ice for more than a week.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency says the icebreaker reached Sakhalin Bay in Russia's Far East early Sunday to join a small convoy of rescue vessels trying to free three ships and 400 crew stuck in two-meter-thick ice since December 31. The agency says two other ships icebound since January 4 have been freed.

Authorities say rescue efforts have been hampered by fierce Arctic winds, near-zero visibility and shifting ice floe in Sakhalin Bay, located near the Khabarovsk region of the Russian mainland.

Meanwhile, search operations in the nearby Tartar Strait continued Sunday for a Cambodian flagged fishing boat that sent a distress signal Friday. The Itar-Tass news agency says the distress message said the vessel was sinking and that the only life raft failed to deploy correctly.

The report said all 11 crew are Russian citizens from the region.