Russian River Cruise Ship Sinks
Photos and Information Courtesy of NY Times, Reuter’s Service and Getty’s Images
With as many as 129 still feared drowned (including 27 children) as late as Monday July 11th,, a full day after a horrific accident involving a River Cruise ship with 56 children reported on-board, the Russian owned “Bulgaria” sank at around 1:30pm local time while on a Volga river cruise from Bolgar to Kazan near the Tatarstan city of Syukyevo . Thus far there are only about 80 known survivors. Poor Maintenance, Disregard for Safety, and outright greed appear to be initial factors attributable to this terrible and tragic accident, which is the worst maritime accident in post Soviet history. Additionally, two Riverboat Captains have been arrested in connection to this incident that were piloting vessels that passed the wreck site, without stopping to lend aid. See a Russian News Clip (with English Subtitles) which features details of the incident (by clicking here) .
The “Bulgaria” is operated by Agrorechtur (a Russian owned tour company). The ship a Two Decked Vessel (at left) was constructed in the mid 1950’s and was designed for a capacity of no more than 140 passengers, without explanation as to why she would have allowed 208 persons to be aboard. Initial government sourced information indicates that the ships last overhaul was more than 30 years ago, and that currently the vessel was not licensed to carry passengers. News agencies have now learned that the actual owner of the ill-fated vessel is a millionaire, and member of the Russian Political Party, and has been identified as Mikhail Antonov.
Despite the obvious regulatory oversights at play here, survivors recount their having to tread water and grab onto debris for about one and a half hours until rescued, further stating that two cargo ships and one with passengers passed them by without lending any assistance (as passengers could be seen taking cell phone pictures as they passed by). Such a situation is just humanly unthinkable. Survivors in the water were finally rescued by a passing ship “the Ara Bella”.
With many questions that are yet to be answered in connection to this incident, as the Russian Maritime Authority begins its investigation of a vessel that appears was seriously overloaded. According to some of the survivors of Sundays incident the ship was attempting a turning maneuver when the boat drastically tipped causing waves to overrun the ship, sweeping some passengers away, then capsizing and sinking in around 30 feet of water more than a mile from the shore in a short three minutes, catching everyone on-board unprepared as they were hurdled about the ship taking on water and beneath the surface in just seconds.
Currently Russian Maritime Laws require that all ship operators use vessels of Russian origin and ownership only. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, is stating that he wants to know who is responsible for this situation to have occurred. It would appear that no matter what irresponsible acts the vessels operator might have engaged in, how is it; that Russian Maritime Authorities allowed the vessel to be operating in the first place would seem at least one answer he’ll not relish having to deal with.Former Russian President, Vladimir Putin (at left) personally visited the port-side memorial, placing flowers on the thousands already laid out honor of those who were lost in the tragic events which occurred on July 1oth.
This is definitely a story that we shall continue to watch and provide updates. We will be posting further updates to this article as information becomes available. The ship passengers were Russian Families out for a River Cruise. There were no reports of American or British passengers on board. Our heartfelt sorrows and prayers go out to the Russian survivors, and Loved Ones of those who perished.
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