Boat fatalities tied to recklessness

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Two more persons were killed and one was missing and feared dead after another speedboating accident during the night off Norway’s coast near Tjøme. The fatalities come just a day after two young men were also killed while speedboating off nearby Nøtterøy, and now calls are going out for a crackdown on recklessness.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that four persons in a high-powered rubber craft known as an RIB apparently landed in the waters of the Tønsberg Fjord in Vestfold around 4am. The person steering the boat reportedly hit one of the many skjær (semi-submerged rocks) in the area.

One man survived and was picked up by another boat, but the bodies of two women aged 41 and 43 were later found by divers. The fourth person on board the boat was reported missing and feared drowned. Their boat was later found drifting with little visible damage, according to Einar Knudsen of the main search and rescue service for southern Norway (Hovedredningssentralen Sør-Norge).

Third fatal accident in two days
The night before, two young men aged 19 and 20 were killed when their speedboat collided with a berthed boat at Styrsvik on nearby Nøtterøy. The collision occurred around 1am after the two men had left a summer party in the popular holiday area. They also were boating in an RIB rubber craft.

Earlier this week, a 43-year-old man fell overboard from a sailboat off Hvaler on the eastern side of the Oslo Fjord. He remained missing on Wednesday but was presumed drowned while a mini-sub continued to search for his body.

Rescue workers said none of those killed this week was wearing a life-vest and both police and Red Cross officials warned that boating at high speed in the dark is a fatal combination. Any consumption of alcohol only raises the risk, they noted.

“Boats must not be a free place where normal safety rules don’t apply,” said Sven Mollekleiv, president of the Norwegian Red Cross. “Wearing a life vest and using fundamental common sense on the water should be standard for Norwegians.”

Proposal to extend speed limits
Norwegian Sea Rescue (Redningsselskapet) is proposing that the strict 5-knot-per-hour speed limits that apply inside harbours in Norway should be extended to all areas within 100 meters from land, reports newspaper Aftenposten. The volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives at sea also wants one standard speed limit for the entire country.

Police in Oslo already have been cracking down on speeding boaters and their alcohol consumption but maritime patrols have been reduced elsewhere, not least in the popular areas off the southern coast between Risør and Egersund (Sørlandet). Only two police boats will be on patrol in the area this summer, because of alleged budget constraints.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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