Tragic Loss After Russian Cruise Ship Sinks
At least fifty-five people have been confirmed dead and dozens are missing and feared dead after a cruise ship sank on Sunday in Russia’s Volga River as of Monday evening.
The “Bulgaria” was carrying 208 passengers when it capsized. In a statement, Russia’s Emergency Ministry said 79 people had been rescued. On Monday the search continued for the missing passengers who are believed to have been trapped inside the vessel when it sank. An estimated 50 children are believed to be among the missing.
On Monday morning dozens of divers continued to search the area for survivors, but officials in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan say the search is expected to be completed today.
The vessel reportedly sunk to the bottom of the river in just minutes after a large wave hit the ship during a violent thunderstorm. Survivors say the cruise ship sank so fast that the crew had time to get only a few inflatable rafts ready before the ship sank. Some reports say the vessel was suffering from engine problems and had been sailing with a list prior to the sinking.
Russian Emergency Situations Minister Secretary said plans are being made to lift the vessel off the river bed. The Bulgaria was a double decker tourist vessel built in 1955 in the former Czechoslovakia. Officials say the vessel’s capacity was only 120 passengers and crew but on Sunday the ship was carrying 208 people. In addition some 25 passengers onboard were not registered on the ships manifest.
Russian news agencies are reporting that police have launched a criminal investigation into the sinking after allegations of safety violations aboard the vessel. In addition the governor of the Tatarstan Region said his office will be investigating two passing ships that survivors say didn’t stop to help.
Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, has called for a complete inspection of all passenger transport vessels.
On Monday survivors and family of the missing stood in the rain waiting for new of their loved ones as divers brought bodies to shore.