Sunken cruise ship overloaded by over fifty percent

The Russian cruise ship Bulgaria which sank on Sunday afternoon in Russia’s Volga River was carrying 196 people instead of the maximum 120 allowed by safety rules, President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov said on Monday.

The twin-deck Bulgaria, built in 1955, sank on Sunday at 01:58 PM Moscow time (09:58 GMT) near the village of Syukeyevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan.

“One hundred and ninety six people were on board,” Minnikhanov said. “Fifteen people were not on the list as they did not buy tickets,” he added.

A maximum 120 passengers are allowed on this type of the vessel, Volga Region emergencies ministry department head Igor Panshin, said earlier.

Tatarstan’s Emergency Ministry put the number of those on board at 199.

A total of 79 people were rescued, while around 100 are still missing and nine, including a child, have been found dead, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said on Monday.

Witnesses said the vessel rolled on its right side and sank in eight minutes. Rescuers say that the vessel could have been sunk by a large wave.

A criminal case has been launched into the ship’s sinking on charges of safety violations, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, to “form an investigative team to establish the cause of the tragedy and find those responsible for the incident.”

The Russian Transport Ministry has set up a crisis center to investigate the cause of the tragedy.

The vessel successfully passed a regular technical inspection on June 15 this year and was certified for further use, the Russian Transport Ministry said in a statement.

The Bulgaria carried all the necessary life-saving equipment, the ministry said adding that the ship had life-rafts for 120 people, two lifeboats for 36 people, as well as 165 life-vests for adults and 12 for children.

The Tatarstan authorities have declared Tuesday, July 12, a day of mourning for those who died on board the Bulgaria.

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