Voices from Russia

Monday, 11 July 2011

11 July 2011. BREAKING NEWS. Tragedy on the Volga: Sinking of the Cruise Ship “Bulgariya”

Filed under: breaking news,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

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On Sunday, 10 July, the river cruise vessel Bulgariya sank in the Kuibyshev Reservoir on the Volga River. The Bulgariya, which was carrying 199 passengers and crew, went to the bottom within minutes. The tragedy occurred near the village of Kama-Syukeyevo in Kamsko-Ustyinsky Raion of the Tatarstan Republic (a federal subject of the RF) at around 14.00 MSK (11.00 UTC 06.00 EDT 03.00 PDT). Rescue operations are still underway, and the authorities in Tatarstan declared that Tuesday was a day of mourning in the republic. According to preliminary reports, the Bulgariya sailed with more than 70 people over its stated carrying capacity. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MChS) stated that 199 people were onboard at 09.00 MSK (06.00 UTC 01.00 EDT 22.00 9 July PDT), whilst Tatarstan official sources say there were 196 on the vessel. A list posted on the website of the regional MChS said that there 59 children amongst the passengers. Recent reports indicate that the MChS has rescued 79 people so far, 23 out of 33 crew, and 56 out of 166 passengers.

The Bulgariya capsized about 30 kilometres (@18 miles) from Kazan, in Kamsko-Ustyinsky Raion. The official cause of the accident is the accident is still under investigation, but it’s known that there was inclement weather on the Volga… a strong gusty wind was blowing; there was a heavy thunderstorm. The vessel was unstable due to its overloaded condition; operating regulations stated that the Bulgariya had a maximum carrying capacity of 120 people (both crew and passengers). That is, the Bulgariya was carrying 166 passengers, when its legal safety limit was 87, almost twice the number allowed. The vessel Arabella, which was in the vicinity of the wreck, picked up most of the survivors, its captain told the MChS that he landed them in Kazan that evening. Survivors told reporters that before the Arabella stopped to rescue them, two other craft sailed by, but they didn’t stop. At present, the fate of more than 100 people remains unknown, but there’s little chance of finding any more survivors. The bad weather complicates the work of MChS rescue divers, and since the fuel tanks of the Bulgariya’s wreck are leaking, divers have a strict safety time limit on how long that they can stay in the vicinity of the wreck. At the site of the Bulgariya’s sinking, the MChS installed additional lighting so that its divers could more easily examine the vessel. ITAR-TASS, quoting an MChS source, said, “There’s only a minimal chance of finding any more living survivors”. RIA-Novosti quoted another MChS source as saying, “Our office said that our divers have seen ‘a lot of corpses’ on the wreck site”. It added that there was a musical performance going on in the auditorium of the Bulgariya at the time of the capsizing, and that one of the divers said that he saw the bodies of about 50 children.

The Bulgariya was an old ship, built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia; it didn’t have adequate watertight bulkhead compartmentation. The RF Ministry of Transport said that that it passed inspection on 15 June 2011; it certified that it was a seaworthy craft. However, the TV channel Россия 24 (Rossiya 24: Russia 24) reported that the Bulgariya only had two lifeboats on board (with a capacity of 20 people each), not the four required under riverine maritime regulations. Bulgariya survivors said that some emergency exits were closed or welded shut. Because of this, people couldn’t escape from interior compartments to the outside decks. This trapped about 50 children inside the vessel’s auditorium; when the vessel heeled over, it knocked most people off their feet, slamming them to the deck. The SKP (Investigation Committee) of the RF Genprokuratura issued information that the Bulgariya left the port of Kazan with engine trouble. In fact, they opened a criminal case, under the article of the Criminal Code covering “violation of rules of safe operation of vessels”.

This is the most serious riverine transportation accident in recent Russian history.

11 July 2011

Compiled from various Russian internet sources

BMD 

Editor’s Note:

Suffice it to say, heads are gonna roll as a result of this. The responsible parties are gonna get learned, kiddies… they’re going to absorb the full meaning and implications of каторга (katorga: forced labour) in Correctional Colony 1313 in the Sakha Republic… or, they’ll have the pleasure of the multifarious joys of Correctional Colony 3131 on Cape Anadyr. They fought the law and the law won! It ain’t nice to fool around with Papa VVP… things tend to happen (like bustin’ rocks under the Arctic sun). It’s not like the Republican Wonderland of Texas… where Kenneth Lay of Enron fame (pal of GWB and loudmouthed Born-again “Christian”) didn’t serve a day in prison. You can have an attitude like Russia’s, where miscreant businessmen go to jail… or, you can have an attitude like Texas, where buccaneer businessmen are coddled. In 2012, you can choose… choose well… for you’ll not get a “second chance”.

BMD 

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