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One dead, over 100 missing as cruise ship sinks in Central Russia (UPDATE)

Other News Materials 10 July 2011 23:16
102 people are missing, one died after a cruise ship Bulgaria with 188 people aboard has sunken on Russia's Volga River on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.
One dead, over 100 missing as cruise ship sinks in Central Russia (UPDATE)

Number of people missing updated (first version posted at 22:08)

102 people are missing, one died after a cruise ship Bulgaria with 188 people aboard has sunken on Russia's Volga River on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.

The two-decked Bulgaria, built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia, sank at 13:58 Moscow time (09:58 GMT) on Sunday near the village of Syukeyevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Among the 188 people aboard the vessel, 85 were saved, one woman died, said the regional emergencies center.

Earlier the emergencies center reported about 182 people aboard, with number of the rescued changing.

CRIMINAL CASE OPENED

Tatarstan's police opened a criminal case into the ship's sinking on the safety violation charges, Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The Kremlin said that the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Investigative Committee's Chief, Alexander Bastrykin to "create an investigative team in order to establish a cause of the tragedy and find those responsible for the accident."

The Russian Transportation Ministry set up a crisis center that probes into the cause of the tragedy.

Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov has canceled his vacation over the accident and returned to Kazan to head the emergency operation center.

CAUSE OF TRAGEDY

The 56-year old vessel, unlike other cruise ships used for voyages down the Volga River, was not renovated, Russian Tourism Industry Union said.

However Russia's transport watchdog, Rostransnadzor said the vessel was in good technical condition with all the necessary certifications. There was "an abrupt sinking of the vessel," Rostransnadzor said.

The head of the tourism agency, selling tours to the Volga River, Dmitry Voropayev said the ships similar to Bulgaria do not have internal water-resistant bulkheads what makes them vulnerable to any hole in the hull.

One of the passengers, who survived the tragedy, said the vessel heaved down on its right side and sank in a three-minute time. "It was almost impossible to survive as there were about 200 people aboard...There were a lot of children. Prior to the tragedy they were taken to the children's room on the second deck."

The survived passenger also said that just after the Bulgaria's sinking two vessels passed by the scene of the tragedy and did not stop to save people. "It was a kind of barge and an oil ship. They didn't stop."

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