Tour boat sinks in Russia, over 100 missing


MOSCOW, Russia – One woman was killed and some 102 others were missing after a cruise ship “Bulgaria” carrying 188 sank in Volga river Sunday, the Russian Emergencies Situations Ministry spokeswoman confirmed.

Irina Andrianova told Itar-Tass that the latest information showed that 85 people have been rescued by 21:00 local time (1700 GMT), two of them were hospitalized.

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All of the rescued were picked up by a passing ship “Arabella”, she said.

Andrianova confirmed that there were 148 passengers, 22 crew members, and 16 other staff aboard the double-decker ship, another two people were taken aboard without consent from the tourism company.

Andrianova added that the cause of the sinking was still unknown.

Earlier, a regional Emergencies Situations Ministry spokesman said that there were a total of 173 people aboard the ship, 167 of them had been rescued, but later he said he had been mistaken and that some 80 were safe.

The Emergencies Situations Ministry said the Bulgaria sank at 13:58 Moscow time (0958 GMT) near the village of Syukeyevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district of Russian republic of Tatarstan.

The ministry added that the ship was heading to the regional capital, Kazan and it sank about 3 km from shore in 20 meters of water.

An Ilyushin Il-76 jet with 16 divers, 33 rescuers and a team of psychologists to Kazan have been sent to the region, said the ministry.

Earlier, the ministry said more than 80 rescue workers and a Mi- 8 helicopter have been deployed to the region.

The Kremlin press office said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has held phone conversation with Emergencies Situation minister after the accident and ordered an investigation into the accident.

The president also ordered Tatarstan head Rustam Minnikhanov to give assistance to the survivors and victims and their families.

According to local media reports, three factors may have caused the accident, including the violation of ship’s operation, overload, and aging of the ship.

The Bulgaria, built in 1955, belongs to a local tourism company Agrorechtur. The company’s website says the ship is designed for 140 passengers.