Source AP ©

Twelve Russian crew members rescued by Norwegian helicopter in Arctic

Norwegian rescue officials said Tuesday that they had rescued all 12 crew members from a Russian freighter in distress in a strong gale Tuesday off the Arctic port of Murmansk.

Norway’s help was requested by Russia’s rescuers after their ship lost engine power during severe weather and ran into rocks off the coast.

Other Russia ships could not risk approaching the vessel due to the weather – the winds were over 55 kph (35 mph).

Norwegian rescue official Oystein Aadde said "It was probably due to geography. It was simply the closest helicopter."

A Sea King helicopter was sent around 8:20 a.m. (0720 GMT) from the Banak Air Base, near the town of Lakselv, by the Rescue Coordination Center for Northern Norway .

The aircraft hoisted the 12 crew aboard and flew them to the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes, operations leader Sten-Rune Nikolaysen said.

"They are all fine. No one was injured," Nikolaysen said by telephone.

The Russian rescue center in Murmansk, on the Kola Peninsula, ran the rescue effort, Aadde said.

Norway and Russia share land and maritime borders in the Arctic, and routinely train for and assist each other in rescue efforts.