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Europe

Over 100 feared dead after Russian ship sinks in Volga

Video by Carla WESTERHEIDE , Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-11

Some 101 people were presumed drowned after a tourist boat with 188 people on board sank in Russia’s Volga river amid wind and rain late on Sunday, emergency services said. Dozens of children are believed to be among the missing.

 
REUTERS - More than 100 people were missing and feared drowned after a tourist boat sank in Russia's Volga river on Sunday, emergency services officials and survivors said.
 
Weeping and wailing as they embraced relatives on shore, survivors rescued after over an hour in the water said the two-decked, 56-year-old riverboat sank fast in a thunderstorm after listing onto its side and that many people died.
 
Two women were confirmed dead, but as divers examined the sunken ship after dark, authorities said there was little hope of finding any of the 103 missing people alive.
"The chances of finding more survivors are very small," Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said.
 
Andrianova told Reuters there were believed to have been 185 people aboard the riverboat and 80 had been rescued, including 77 brought to shore on another tourist boat that passed by over an hour after the sinking. Several were taken to hospitals.
 
The boat was heading to the Tatarstan regional capital, Kazan, 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow, when it sank about 3km from shore in 20 metres of water, the emergencies ministry's regional branch said.
 
"It leaned onto its right side, turned over in literally three minutes and went to the bottom," Russian news agencies quoted a man who was rescued by the passing boat as saying after it docked in Kazan.
 
"There was thunder and heavy rain at the time. There are very many dead," the man, who said his wife and grandson dr owned, was quoted as saying.
There were cries of anguish and sobs of relief as anxious relatives greeted stricken survivors, some of whom lost loved ones in the disaster.
 
Many children on the boat
 
 "The child is back there," one man cried, wailing with grief as he hugged a woman.
One woman told state-run Rossiya-24 television she had lost her grip on her daughter as they struggled to escape.
 
"Practically no children made it out," the woman said. "There were very many children on the boat -- very many."
 
A man, his friend weeping at his side, said a barge and another boat had passed by without stopping while passengers tried to stay alive in the water. "We waved and waved," he said.
The cause of the sinking was unclear, Andrianova said, but authorities opened a criminal probe and appeared likely to focus on the age and condition of the boat, called the Bulgaria. It was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia, then a Soviet satellite.
 
State television said the boat had only two life boats instead of the initial four, and Russian media quoted a crew member from the boat that rescued passengers as saying there had apparently been no time to deploy them.
 
Itar-Tass cited the company that owned the Bulgaria as saying it was in working order and had passed inspections.
 
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation into the sinking, the Kremlin said in a statement.
 
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.
 
Russian news agencies said the Bulgaria, which state TV said had dozens of cabins and two restaurants, had taken passengers to a city down river in Tatarstan on Saturday and was returning to Kazan when it sank.

 

Date created : 2011-07-11

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