Poor technical condition behind Bulgaria ship wreck – investigators

MOSCOW, August 5 (Itar-Tass) — Investigators said the wreck of the Bulgaria pleasure boat on the River Volga that killed 122 people was caused by the ship’s inferior technical condition, including by an engine failure, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass on Friday.

According to Markin, this is a preliminary theory. The exact wreck cause will be made public after a more thorough navigation and engineering study is over.

“A preliminary theory has it that the wreck was caused by the boat’s poor technical condition, i.e. malfunction of the engine and radio alarm systems, by the shortage of life boats, and because the ship was overloaded,” Markin said.

There were 201 people aboard, while the ship’s seating capacity was 156 people, Markin noted and added that more studies and examinations will be done to establish the exact reason for the wreck.

The Bulgaria pleasure boat, which was on a Bolgary-Kazan river voyage, sank in a storm in the Kuibyshevskoye dam lake, three kilometers away from the shore, on July 10. The ship built in Czechoslovakia in 1955 tilted to the right and sank within minutes. According to the latest information, there were 201 people aboard, some of them unregistered. Seventy-nine were rescued by the Arabella ship that happened to be near. The officially confirmed death toll is 122 people – 28 children, 72 women and 22 men. One woman has not yet been identified. A genetic study is needed to identify the dead body, he noted.

A criminal case was opened over the accident. “More than 200 people have been recognized as victims, about 150 witnesses have been interrogated, documents and materials related to the case have been seized in a number of Russian regions,” he said.

On July 26, the Bulgaria was lifted from the Volga bottom and tugged to a dock of the Kuibyshev shipyards. Investigators have examined the ship and recovered personal belongings of its passengers.

“Now investigators will establish all those who are responsible for the accident and see how the actions of the crew, ship owners and officials from regulatory and supervisory authorities led to the tragedy,” Markin added. 

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