Moscow: Nine Confirmed Dead & 90 Missing In Volga Boat Sinking Tragedy

11 Jul

A relative embraces a survivor upon the arrival of the Arabella riverboat with dozens of survivors of a shipwreck in Kazan, on Sunday, July 10, 2011, on the Volga River, in central Russia. A woman drowned and some 100 remain missing after the double-decker passenger boat sank in the middle of the river some 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the nearest bank, in the Tatarstan region, about 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Moscow. (AP Photo/Roman Kruchinin)

A relative embraces a survivor upon the arrival of the Arabella riverboat with dozens …

Families and friends help a survivor upon the arrival of the Arabella riverboat with dozens of survivors of a shipwreck in Kazan, on Sunday, July 10, 2011, on the Volga River, in central Russia. A woman drowned and some 100 remain missing after the double-decker passenger boat sank in the middle of the river some 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the nearest bank, in the Tatarstan region, about 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Moscow. (AP Photo/Roman Kruchinin)

Families and friends help a survivor upon the arrival of the Arabella riverboat with …

NEWS UPDATE:

Russian Emergencies Ministry members take part in the operation to search for the missing people from the tourist boat "Bulgaria" on the bank of the Volga river in Russia's Tatarstan region

Russian Emergencies Ministry members take part in the operation to search for the …

A diver from the Russian Emergencies Ministry walks on the bank of the Volga river during the operation to search for the missing people from the tourist boat "Bulgaria" in Russia's Tatarstan region

A diver from the Russian Emergencies Ministry walks on the bank of the Volga river …

Article: Medvedev says too many “rust tubs” in Russia

 

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The death toll from a Russian riverboat accident rose to 41 Monday, Interfax news agency quoted a local emergency official as saying.

“At present, 41 bodies have been brought to the surface,” Interfax quoted local emergency ministry spokesman Ruslan Fatkhudinov as saying.

Divers are searching the sunken wreck of the Bulgaria, a double-decked boat built in 1955, that listed to its side and sank within minutes Sunday about 3 km (2 miles) from shore during stormy weather with nearly 200 people on board.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Amie Ferris-Rotman

————

MOSCOW (AP) — Rescuers scoured the wide waters of a Volga River reservoir on Monday, searching with dimming hopes for survivors after an aged, overloaded cruise ship sank amid wind and rain. Nine people were confirmed dead, but more than 90 remained missing.

Exactly how many people were aboard the two-deck Bulgaria when it set off for a cruise on Sunday remains unclear but it was certain to be carrying more than its licensed maximum. Officials say anywhere from 185 to 196 people were aboard the ship that should have carried no more than 120.

The cause of the disaster has not been determined. Igor Panishin of the regional Emergencies Ministry was quoted by the state news agency RIA Novosti as saying survivors reported the ship was leaning to starboard as it made a turn and a wave washed over the deck. It sank within about eight minutes, he said.

The ship sank about three kilometers (two miles) from shore in about 20 meters (65 feet) of water, officials said.

National Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Smirnikh on Monday said nine people are confirmed dead and 80 have been rescued. A ministry list of the rescued shows all were Russians; it was unclear if any foreigners were aboard.

River cruise boats such as the Bulgaria are highly popular among Russian holiday-makers, conducting cruises ranging from a couple of days to two weeks.

Many children were aboard the boat, and Russian news reports cite survivors as saying about 50 children had gathered in the ship’s entertainment hall shortly before it sank Sunday afternoon.

One survivor told the national news channel Vesti 24 that other ships refused to come to their aid.

“Two ships did not stop, although we waved our hands,” said the man in his 40s, who stood on the shore amid weeping passengers, some of them wrapped in towels and blankets. He held another man, who was weeping desperately.

Emergency teams and divers from neighboring regions rushed to the site of the tragedy, 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Moscow.

The Volga, Europe‘s longest river, is up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) wide in places. The river is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer months.

The Bulgaria was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia and belongs to a local tourism company. It was traveling from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.

A tourism expert said the lack of partitions inside the Bulgaria made it vulnerable to breaches.

“In case of an accident these ships sink within minutes,” Dmitri Voropayev, head of the Samara Travel company, told RIA Novosti.

Russia’s Union of Tourism Industry said the ship had not been inspected or retrofitted for years, according to the Interfax news agency.

NEWS UPDATE:

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Video: More Than 100 Feared Dead In Volga Sinking  1:33 | 634 views

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Video: More Than 100 Feared Dead In Volga Sinking  1:33 | 402 views

Over 100 people are missing after a tourist boat sank in Russia’s Volga river, emergency services officials have said.

Dozens of children were believed to be among the 101 people missing, as two bodies were recovered.

Some 84 were rescued after the river cruiser sank at about 2pm local time in the Tatarstan region, Russia’s emergencies ministry said.

Two of those rescued were taken to hospital and a helicopter and rescue team are searching for survivors.

The boat, called the Bulgaria, was heading to the regional capital, Kazan, around 500 miles (800km) east of Moscow, when it sank near to the shore, the ministry’s regional branch said.

There were believed to be 125 passengers, 22 crew and 35 other staff aboard the vessel, the emergencies ministry said.

Cruises on the Volga, which cuts through the heart of Russia and drains into the Caspian Sea, are popular among Russians as well as foreigners.

State television said the 50-year-old two-deck Bulgaria had dozens of cabins and two restaurants.

The cause of the tragedy is unclear.

NEWS UPDATE:

The BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says the tragedy has shocked Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has demanded checks on all transport services after an overloaded boat sank on the Volga River, leaving 110 people missing and feared dead.

Mr Medvedev said the old, double-decker tourist boat was in a poor condition.

Around 80 people were rescued on the River Volga in Tatarstan, about 750km (450 miles) east of Moscow.

Officials say the boat’s capacity was 120 passengers and crew, but it had been carrying 208 people on Sunday.

At least 50 children are feared to be among the dead. A survivor said children had gathered in a play area on deck just before the boat went down.

Tearful reunions of survivors of the tragedy and their loved ones at the port of Kazan in Russia on Sunday
Survivors said the boat sank without warning in a few minutes

At a government meeting on Monday Mr Medvedev called for “a complete check on all means of passenger transport”. Russia had too many “old rust tubs”, he complained.

He declared Tuesday a day of mourning across Russia for the Volga River victims.

Officials say there is little hope of finding any more survivors.

So far 41 bodies have been recovered. Divers saw many more bodies inside the sunken vessel.

Boat sank suddenly

The double-decker Bulgaria was caught in a storm on Sunday while sailing from Bolgary to the regional capital, Kazan.

It sank within minutes at one of the widest points of the river, at about 1400 (1000 GMT).

The bad weather, mechanical failure on the 55-year-old vessel and overcrowding have all been cited as possible reasons why the boat sank.

Nearly 50 Russian divers were scouring the murky river on Monday.

Igor Panshin, head of the Emergencies Ministry’s Volga Regional Centre, was shown commenting on NTV: “[The divers] were tapping on the hull in hope of getting possible replies. Unfortunately, none came.

“They have now shone light into the holds and the restaurants, and they see that there are [dead bodies of] people inside.”

Bulgaria boat. File photo The Bulgaria was overcrowded and sank rapidly during a storm, officials said

Negligence claim

The Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation, amid suspicions that negligence contributed to the tragedy.

Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said the boat was overcrowded, carrying 208 people, of whom 25 had not been registered as passengers.

Russian media also report that one of the boat’s two engines was not working.

Investigators quoted by Itar-Tass news agency said that even before the boat had set sail on Sunday one of its two engines had malfunctioned and the vessel had been listing.

The 80m (260ft) boat sank several kilometres from the shore near the village of Sukeyevo, about 80km south of Kazan.

The Volga, Europe’s largest river, is popular with cruise boats at this time of the year.

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