Divers search for some 50 children in Russia’s sunken boat

Divers working at the scene where a Russian cruise ship sank in the Volga River on Sunday, are approaching a music room where dozens of children are believed trapped, the regional emergencies center said.

Up to 50 children could have been in the music room, the regional emergencies center’s spokesman said. “Divers are presently approaching the music hall, where children’s bodies could be found.”

The latest death toll in the twin-deck Bulgaria wreckage reached 50 with a total of 79 people rescued and over 50 still missing.

The 56-year old river boat, with a legal maximum capacity of 120, was carrying 207 people aboard, including 25 unregistered passengers, the emergencies ministry said.

The Russian Prosecutor’s Office said the ship, which was 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 Russian Transport Ministry said however that the vessel passed a regular technical inspection on June 15 this year and was certified fit for use.

The Bulgaria may not have had enough life-saving equipment for all those on board. The ship had life rafts for 120 people, and two lifeboats for 36 people, as well as 165 life vests for adults and 12 for children, the ministry said.

More than 100 divers are going from cabin to cabin in search of bodies, as well as the bars and restaurant. Some of the bodies discovered in the sunken ship had life vests on, showing that people most likely did not have enough time to jump ship. Witnesses said the ship sank in two minutes.

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