19/7 Tass 82
MOSCOW, July 19 (Itar-Tass) — About 400 tonnes of soil have been removed alongside the Bulgaria ship that sank in the Volga River; in the next few hours it is planned to complete the ship’s straightening operation, spokesman for the operational headquarters for the vessel’s lifting Timur Khikmatov told Itar-Tass.
“The dredging operation along the left side of the Bulgaria has been completed, a total of about 400 tonnes of soil have been removed,” he said, explaining that the work was done to simplify the process of levelling the ship.
The spokesman stressed that the operation was conducted by the KPL-16 crane throughout the night in bad weather conditions.
“The vessel’s straightening is planned to be completed in the next few hours, approximately by 12:00, Moscow time,” he said. After that specialists will begin an operation to put under the Bulgaria ship 15-metre steel sheets on which two floating cranes will raise the vessel.
On Monday, RF Deputy Transport Minister Viktor Olersky said that one of the cords had broken on Sunday when the Bulgaria was levelled on the bottom.
Two enormous cranes with cables attached to them are at the site of the accident on the Volga River. Once they are able to right the vessel they will start to raise. “It is a long process. It will take not one hour,” Olersky, who is overseeing the operation, said on Saturday. “The whole lifting operation consists of four phases,” he noted. “Phase one is to fix the hoists; phase two, to put the sunken vessel on the even keel; phase three, to raise the vessel and finally phase four, to transport the ship to the dock,” Olersky explained.
Transport Minister Igor Levitin said it would take several hours to complete work with the Bulgaria once the vessel was transported to the dockage facility.
Meanwhile, psychologists continued to help the families of those who died as a result of the tragic accident. Psychological and psychiatric support has already been rendered to more than 1,000 people – the injured, their relatives and family members of those who are still missing.
Levitin and Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu presented medals to Russian Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers and crewmembers of the Arabella cruise ship for rescuing passengers of the MS Bulgaria.
Seventy-seven specialists, among them 49 divers, are preparing to lift the wrecked Bulgaria. In all, the works involve 834 people.
The search for 15 people missing in the shipwreck continues along the 118-kilometer coastline and on 19 river islands. A total of 420 people on 93 boats and 13 aircraft are searching for the missing.
The MS Bulgaria sank in a storm in the Kuibyshev reservoir on the Volga, three kilometres away from the shore, on July 10. The ship built in Czechoslovakia in 1955 titled to the right and sank within minutes. The death toll has reached 114. In all, there were 208 people aboard, some of them unregistered. Seventy-nine were rescued. Fifteen are still missing.
The Russian River Register permitted the Bulgaria to carry no more than 120 people.
The Bulgaria had six rescue rafts for 120 people and two rescue boats for 36. It had compartments for one, two, three or four passengers.
The Kama River Shipping Company is the official owner of the Bulgaria. It leased the ship to Vodaflot, and the latter sub-leased the Bulgaria to Argorechflot in 2010. The ship made voyages from Kazan to Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Bolgary and Volgograd.
Shipbuilders said that the diesel-and-electric-powered vessels of the Bulgaria type had a service life of no more than 20 years. Longer use was possible on the condition of constant maintenance and modernization. The Bulgaria had its last full checkout at the Perm shipyard on May 24, 2007. Some 120 passenger ships are cruising rivers in European Russia. An average period of their use is 30 years. There are three vessels of the Bulgaria type. About 14.5 million tours went on river cruises in Russia in 2010.