Ferry precautions intensify

The Associated Press

TURKU, Finland Acting quickly to reassure travelers, Scandinavian shipping lines welded shut the front cargo doors on passenger ferries Tuesday in an effort to prevent another tragedy.

Ferry lines reported falling ticket sales since Sept. 28, when a Baltic Sea storm ripped off the ferry Estonia's 60-ton front door, allowing tons of water to flood into the car deck and capsize the ship. More than 900 people died.

Only 93 bodies have been recovered. Authorities in Helsinki, Finland, were using DNA analysis Tuesday to identify the disfigured corpses. Pressure was building to raise the wreck and find more bodies.

Meanwhile, questions remained about whether more lives could have been saved in the Estonia disaster.

A report on the Swedish TT news agency said distress signals from one of the radios on board the Estonia didn't reach rescue stations in Sweden because its broadcasting range was too short. Another radio designed to send out SOS calls wasn't working, it said.

Workers fanned out across the region to scrutinize ferries, after investigators blamed faulty locks on the Estonia's front cargo door for the sinking.

Port inspectors in Norway and Denmark found problems with the front doors on two ships and took them out of service for repairs. Neither was carrying passengers at the time. In Finland, authorities stopped an Estonian ferry from leaving Helsinki harbor Tuesday after faults were found in its bow doors, Finnish radio reported. Repairs were also being made on that ferry.

"It's understandable that people have second thoughts about sailing on ferries now and there's plenty for us to think about," said Kai Jansson of SF-Line. He said the company has had falling sales since the Estonia sank.

Workers were sealing doors on about 30 ferries owned by Silja, Viking, Aland, Gotland, Estline and other lines. Finland's National Board of Navigation ordered bow doors welded shut on all Finnish ferries and cruise ships sailing out of Helsinki.

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