MOSCOW, July 17 (Itar-Tass) —— An operation to lift the sunken Bulgaria cruise ship from under water may begin on Sunday, Deputy Transport Minister Viktor Olersky told Itar-Tass.
“If all is normal, the work on raising the ship to the surface will begin tomorrow,” the deputy minister said on Saturday. However, he refused to say when exactly the operation is to begin.
Earlier, it was planned to start the operation on July 18. The press service of president of Russia’s republic of Tatarstan reported that preparations for raising the Bulgaria passenger ship to the surface were proceeding ahead of schedule.
According to Deputy Emergencies Minister Alexander Chupriyan, divers are through with sealing the sunken Bulgaria passenger ship. Now specialists are preparing the ship for straightening on the bottom, he noted.
“After the ship is straightened divers will examine the place where it was resting to see if there were any dead bodies,” Chupriyan said.
The Bulgaria, which was on a Bolgary-Kazan river voyage, sank in the Kuibyshev dam lake in conditions of stormy weather on July 10. Built in 1955, the ship listed to the starboard and sank within minutes. Its official seating capacity was 140 people, but reportedly it was carrying 208 people with some of the passengers having boarded unregistered. Seventy nine passengers – 29 women, 10 children, and 40 men – were rescued. Fifteen persons are still missing.
The missing are being searched both in water and along the coastline within an area of up to 140 kilometers, a spokesman for the emergencies administration in the republic of Tatarstan told Itar-Tass. As many as 957 people are involved in rescue operations.
Two crane boats, the Moguchy floating crane from Volgograd and another crane from Dubna, called the Kanal Imeni Moskvy /the Moscow Canal/, with a cargo capacity of 350 tons each, which will raise the ship to the surface, arrived at the site on Saturday morning although they have been waited for at night (from July 16 to July 17).
“Both crane boats have been installed at the scene and sealed using anchors. All ropes have been delivered on their board,” Olersky said.
The the Kanal Imeni Moskvy (project J042) was designed by Soviet specialists and built in Austria in 1983. It is 63 meters in length, 25 meters in width, and its height is 4.5 meters.
The Moguchy crane (project J042A) was built in 1985 and is intended for other types of works than the project J042 crane. It has a different crane arm design and faster lifting winches to operate grabbing mechanisms. Its length is 63 meters, width – 25 meters.
Both cranes are equipped with independent power units and may be hooked up to a shore-based power feeder through their own substations.