Evacuation of stranded ship off Latvia complete
Mostly in good spirits, 651 passengers - predominantly German and elderly - boarded a 15-car train for the Latvian capital Riga after authorities evacuated them from a stranded ship off the Latvian shore, the dpa reported.
"The evacuation was well organized. They just told us what we had to do," one passenger of the cruise ship Mona Lisa told the LNT TV evening news Monday.
The passengers will be checked into hotels and are expected to stay in Riga at least Monday night, the German Embassy's press office told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"People are very calm. They have a lot of humour about it. They didn't pay a lot for the cruise," a ship employee, Martins Mironovs, told Latvian National Radio.
The authorities also evacuated to shore 11 crew members who will remain in the western Latvian town of Ventspils, 37 kilometres away from the Mona Lisa.
The 332 crew members remained on the ship along with experts from the Latvian navy coastguard service and Latvian Maritime Administration.
A special rescue team will continue to work Tuesday to return the ship to deep waters.
They arrived at the request of Germany's Lord Nelson Seereisen shipping company, which chartered the 42-year-old ship, Liene Ulbina told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The captain decided to evacuate the passengers off the 201-metre Mona Lisa after unsuccessful efforts to pull it free and in view of the worsening weather conditions, Ulbina said.
The air force and border guards were on standby, although there were no signs of damage to the Mona Lisa, which has been stranded since Sunday in the Irbe strait between Latvia and the Estonian island of Saaremaa, 17 kilometres from the shore.
The cause of the accident remains unclear.