Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

102 missing after Russia sinking

Rescue boats seek passengers from a tourist boat that sank on the Volga River in central Russia (AP)

Emergency officials say that 102 people are missing and at least one is dead after a passenger boat with more than 180 people on board sank in the Volga River in central Russia.

The double-decker vessel went down two miles from the nearest bank in the giant Kuibyshev reservoir on the Volga River 450 miles east of Moscow, the Tatarstan region emergency ministry said.

The depth at the site was 20 meters, it said.

Irina Andrianova of the Emergencies Ministry in Moscow said there were 135 passengers and 47 crew onb oard when the double-decker went down.

Authorities say a ship rescued some 75 passengers, while the body of an unidentified woman and one injured man were sent to a hospital.

Russia's Vesti 24 television quoted a survivor as saying that the boat "tilted to the right and sank within minutes".

Emergency teams from neighbouring regions rushed to the site of the tragedy, and Tatarstan's leader Rustam Minnikhanov interrupted his holiday to return to the region.

The Volga, Europe's largest river in terms of length and discharge, is up to 19 miles wide. The river is a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer months. Most of Russia's largest cities are located in the Volga River basin.

The boat, called Bulgaria, was made in the late 1950s in Czechoslovakia and belongs to a local tourism company. It was going to the regional capital, Kazan, from the town of Bulgar.

A tourism expert said the lack of partitions inside the Bulgaria made it vulnerable to breaches. "It case of an accident these ships sink within minutes," Dmitri Voropayev, head of the Samara Travel company, told the Ria Novosti news agency.

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