Officials in Russia’s Volga republic of Tatarstan are studying ways to recover the Bulgaria tour ship, which sank on Sunday leaving dozens dead, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said.
The latest casualty report says 205 people were onboard when the vessel capsized and sunk in some two minutes, and 63 bodies have been recovered so far. A total of 79 passengers were rescued, and more than 60 remain unaccounted for.
“A group of sunken ship recovery experts has been set up. They are to arrive to Kazan in the next few days. On Tuesday we expect to determine the equipment, necessary to lift the vessel,” Levitin said.
The Russian emergencies minister, Sergei Shoigu, told journalists on Monday that two floating cranes are to arrive in the shipwreck area by July 17.
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.
Witnesses said the vessel rolled on its right side in storm and sank in minutes. Rescuers say that the ill-fated ship could have been sunk by a large wave and may have flooded rapidly due to open portholes and the list.
The ship’s electrician Vasily Bairashev, who survived the wreck, said the captain, Alexander Ostrovsky, tried to keep the vessel afloat when it was caught in storm, but “this was already impossible in practice.”
Divers continue to comb the ship in search for bodies.
“In the past 24 hours a total of 91 divers made 194 dives. At the moment, the middle desk has been fully inspected and the main desk will be searched by morning,” an emergencies ministry spokesman said.
The tragedy prompted Russian authorities to suspend the use of three similar vessels.
“We have roughly 18 vessels of this type, including three on domestic routes. We decided to put their use on hold,” Russian transport minister said.
Tuesday was declared a nationwide day of mourning and funeral services will be held in all Russian Orthodox churches. Russian TV and radio stations will not broadcast entertainment programs and advertising.