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Dozens of ships stuck in Baltic

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 4 (UPI) -- Dozens of ships including six passenger ferries Thursday were stuck in Baltic Sea ice off Sweden and Finland, maritime officials said.

Radio Sweden said drifting ice formations were to blame for the problem in the waters between Stockholm and the Aland Islands. Ice as thick as 20 inches made Baltic travel hazardous, Jonas Lindvall, controller of the Swedish Maritime Administration's ice-breaking unit, told Radio Sweden.

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"The ice wouldn't usually be a problem for the merchant ships, the problem now is that it's very windy, about 20 meters per second (40 to 50 mph) and that means that the ice is moving rapidly, there are lots of ridges with ice that's making it problematic for the ships, so they need help from the ice breakers to get back to the different ports," Lindvall said.

The BBC said as many as 50 vessels were affected.

Tommy Gardebring, press officer with the Swedish Maritime Administration, told CNN additional icebreakers would be sent to the area by midnight local time and predicted most of the ships would be freed by Friday.

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