Recovery of last 2 bodies fixes Volga sinking death toll at 122

The final death toll from the sinking of a Russian cruise vessel on the Volga river was confirmed at 122 on Monday after rescuers found the last two bodies that had been missing following the tragedy.

There were 201 people onboard the twin-deck riverboat Bulgaria, which capsized and sank during a thunderstorm on July 10 near the village of Syukeyevo in the Republic of Tatarstan. Seventy-nine people were rescued.

The wreck of the 80-meter cruiser, which was lying at a depth of some 20 meters, was lifted on Friday from thick silt on the river bottom. Divers recovered the final eight bodies from inside the vessel after it was towed to shallower waters on Saturday.

A police investigation into the tragedy is under way and two people have already been charged over the sinking of the ship. Svetlana Inyakina, the general director of the company that rented the cruise boat, and river fleet inspector Yakov Ivashov, who certified that the Bulgaria was fit to sail, face prison terms if found guilty of providing unsafe services causing the deaths of two or more people.

Media reported in the immediate aftermath of the sinking that the ship, built in 1955 and last overhauled 30 years ago, had no license to carry passengers and was heavily overloaded when it left port on its fateful voyage with only one of its two engines working.

The Russian Public Chamber will begin an inquiry into the accident on Monday.

The tragedy on the Volga has highlighted the poor state of Russia’s worn-out water transport, prompting the authorities to order large-scale inspections and refitting of all passenger vessels.

Russia’s transport authorities have prohibited the navigation of ships similar to Bulgaria. The vessel is to be scrapped as soon as the investigation into the accident is complete.

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