Divers begin recovering children’s bodies from cruise ship wreck

Divers began recovering the bodies of the children who drowned on board the riverboat Bulgaria which sank in Russia’s river Volga on Sunday, an emergency salvage team spokesman said on Tuesday.

“The bodies of five children have been recovered from the salon so far,” the spokesman said. “According to the latest information, 83 people perished in the sinking. Of them 16 were children, 51 women and 16 men,” he added.

An operation to raise the wreck of Bulgaria will begin on July 16, Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu said earlier in the day.

The twin-deck Bulgaria 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.

The ship, built in 1955 and renovated 30 years ago, had no license for carrying passengers and had a number of safety faults, including a broken engine and a list to starboard as well as being grossly overloaded.

The operators of the Bulgaria had no permission to provide tour services, Oleg Moseev, spokesman for the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, Rosturism said on Tuesday.

Neither the AgroRechTur company that held the lease of the Bulgaria, nor the Intur-Volga travel agency that sold tickets for the ill-fated cruise were listed in the Unified Russian Federal Roaster of Tour Operators. Neither company was therefore insured.

Tuesday was declared a nationwide day of mourning and memorial services will be held in all Russian Orthodox churches. Russian TV and radio stations will not broadcast entertainment programs and advertising.

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