28 children, 72 women, 22 men dead in Bulgaria boat wreck

MOSCOW, July 25 (Itar-Tass) — Mostly women and children are fatalities of the Bulgaria shipwreck, the press service of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry’s (EMERCOM) main department for Tatarstan told Itar-Tass.

“The officially confirmed death toll is 122 people – 28 children, 72 women and 22 men,” a spokesman for the regional EMERCOM department said.

Over two days the divers have found the bodies of eight dead who have been unaccounted for. Three of them have not yet been identified. All of them are women.

“The bodies of two men and six women were found in the ship’s premises on the boat deck, in the bow of the right side of the second deck, in the shower room, in the aft of the main deck, under the wheelhouse of the main deck, in cabins of the nose part of the hold section.

The Bulgaria boat, sailing on a pleasure cruise route from Bolgary to Kazan, sank within minutes in a thunderstorm on July 10 at a distance of 3 kilometres form the shore. There were 201 people on board, 79 of them were rescued.

Investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) are getting down to work on the Bulgaria. After the investigation is completed the ship will be scrapped.

Head of the Volga regional emergencies centre Igor Panshin said earlier that there is no visible damage to both the ship’s exterior and interior. And controls in the captain’s room indicate that the ship was in full swing. The Bulgaria was just 40 metres from shallow waters.

Director General of Argorechtur Svetlana Inyakina and senior expert of the Kama River Shipping Company Yakov Ivashov have been arrested within the investigation of the criminal case of the shipwreck. They have been charged under Article 238 part 3 of the RF Criminal Code (provision of services that do not meet safety requirements resulting in the death of two or more persons).

In addition, captain of the Arbat bulk carrier Yuri Tuchin and captain of the Dunaisky 66 tugboat Alexander Yegorov who passed by the sunken Bulgaria, are charged under the RF Criminal Code Article 270 (captain’s failure to provide assistance to a vessel in distress), facing imprisonment for up to 2 years.

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 tourists went on river cruises in Russia in 2010.

The Bulgaria was a class 785/OL800 Russian river cruise ship (built in Komarno, Czechoslovakia) which operated in the Volga-Don basin. On July 10, 2011, Bulgaria sank in the Kuibyshev Reservoir of the Volga River near Syukeyevo, Kamsko-Ustyinsky District, Tatarstan, Russia. The sinking of Bulgaria is the largest Russian non-military ship disaster since 1986 when the SS Admiral Nakhimov crashed into a cargo ship and 423 people died.

The Bulgaria was built in 1955 as Ukraina, and was renamed in February 2010 to Bulgaria after the Volga Bulgaria. Her length was 80.2 metres (263 ft), her beam was 12.5 metres (41 ft), her draft was 1.9 metres (6.2 ft), and her power output was 273 kilowatts (366 hp). She had two engines and two decks. Her cruising speed was 20.5 kilometres per hour (12.7 mph), and her original passenger capacity was 233 (then reduced after overhaul).

At the time of the sinking, Bulgaria was owned by Kama River Shipping Company, which leased the ship to OOO Briz, which in turn subleased it to OOO Argorechtur, which operated it, according to media reports, on a bareboat charter. That means OOO Argorechtur accepted sole liability for technical maintenance and crew placement. Investigators claim that Argorechtur was operating the cruise ship without a proper licence, and the director of OOO Argorechtur was arrested on 12 July 2011.

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