TALLINN - An Isle of Man-flagged tanker carrying 10,000 tonnes of diesel fuel ran aground in stormy weather as it left the Estonian capital Tallinn, but there appeared to be no immediate risk to the environment, authorities said.
"The captain of the Weserstern has asked for a tugboat to get the ship going again," Estonian border guard spokeswoman Riin Kiik told AFP.
"Estonia will provide the tugboat in the morning so that the rescue operation can take place in the daylight," she said.
"The ship has a double hull, so there is no danger of environmental pollution, according to the captain's assessment," said Kiik.
In addition to the double hull, the risk of an oil spill is minimal because the sea bed at the accident site is soft and therefore unlikely to cause damage to the tanker, Kiik said.
"But we'll be on alert the whole night in case the situation gets more complicated," she said.
The ship's captain had earlier turned down an offer of assistance from the Estonian authorities, saying that he first wanted to try to free the vessel under its own steam and also that he was consulting the ship's owners.
Shipping firms -- and their insurers -- can face hefty bills for maritime salvage operations.
The spectre of oil spills looms large in the minds of Estonians.
In January last year, the country's coast was hit by a massive oil slick caused by an unknown ship, a disaster that experts said may have killed 35,000 sea birds.
There have also been a string of weather-related shipping accidents in the Baltic sea this winter.
An operation is still underway off neighbouring Latvia to salvage a Cypriot-flagged cargo ship that ran aground on January 15 as high winds and rain battered the Baltic region.