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Russia cruise ship Bulgaria sinks on the Volga with 9 dead, 100 missing
RUSSIAN officials say nine bodies have been recovered from the Volga River after an overloaded cruise boat sank, but more than about 100 other people
who were on the half-century-old vessel are still missing.
The two-deck cruise vessel was carrying 185 people - 148 of them passengers going for a scenic trip on Russia's most famous river - when it sank
yesterday. The boat was certified to carry a maximum of 120 people.
A spokeswoman for Russia's Emergencies Ministry, Yelena Smirnikh, said today that nine bodies have been found and 80 people rescued.
A passing riverboat managed to pick up 76 people off the Bulgaria, which was packed with 188 tourists and crew members when it went down during a
storm in the central Russian republic of Tatarstan, rescue officials said.
The accident happened around 2pm (8pm AEST) some 3km from the shore, officials said. The Bulgaria was now lying 20 metres down on the riverbed, they
The first survivors were picked up by a riverboat, the Arabella, which was the first vessel to arrive at the scene.
Officials said there was still hope for more survivors because the wide bend of the river where the ship went down had 13 islets to which people could
But one of those rescued said he suspected many people - including dozens of children - might have died. An unnamed survivor told Interfax on his
rescue about 30 kids had gathered in a playroom on the second deck moments before the accident.
"I fear they all died," the person said.
He described how the ship had sunk within minutes after suddenly leaning on its right side and capsizing.
"It flipped over in three minutes and sank. Lots of people died."
And a school director from the village of Syukeyevo, near the scene, told the RIA Novosti news agency: "The river was fairly calm, but there was a
heavy rain and storm."
State news reports said the two-deck vessel was built in 1955, in what was then Czechoslovakia, though Russian television said it had recently been
modernised and included comfortable cabins for up to four people.
Some of the modernised craft, however, are equipped with only two rescue boats - and not the four the original models came with, RIA Novosti
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by telephone to his emergencies minister and the local head of the administration after learning of the
disaster, the Kremlin said.
More than 80 rescue workers were rushed to the region, with a Mi-8 helicopter surveying the scene from the air, the emergencies ministry said
The Volga River has remained a popular summer tourist destination since the Soviet era, with occasional accidents rarely leading to major
The last shipping accident recorded by Russian state media occurred in September last year, when seven people were killed on a lake above the Arctic
Perhaps the most famous shipping disaster occurred in August 1986, when the Admiral Nakhimov collided with a cargo ship while leaving a bay on the
Soviet reports said the boat sank within eight minutes, claiming the lives of 423 people.
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