Russian Boat Sinks 102 Missing

MOSCOW (AP) — Emergency officials say that 102 people, including dozens of children, are missing and at least one is dead after a passenger boat with over 180 people onboard sank in the Volga River on Sunday.

The double-decker vessel went down some 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the nearest bank in the giant Kuibyshev reservoir on the Volga River some 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Moscow, the Tatarstan region emergency ministry said. The depth at the site was 20 meters (65.62 feet), it said.

The spokeswoman for Emergencies Ministry in Moscow, Irina Andrianova said there were 135 passengers and 47 crew onboard when the double-decker went down.

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

Other ships did not stop to pick up people, a survivor said.

“Two ships did not stop, although we waved our hands,” the survivor, a man in his 40s who arrived on the riverboat told Russia’s Vesti 24 television as he stood amid weeping passengers, some of them wrapped in blankets.

Vesti 24 quoted another survivor as saying that the boat sank “tilted to the right and sank within minutes.”

Some 30 children gathered in one of the cockpits minutes before the sinking, another survivor told the Interfax news agency.

Emergency teams and divers from neighboring regions rushed to the site of the tragedy, and Tatarstan’s leader Rustam Minnikhanov interrupted his vacation to return to the region.

Earlier, officials said 15 people were missing. It was unclear what caused the discrepancy in the accounts.

An Emergencies Ministry official in Moscow reported a somewhat lower figure. The spokeswoman for the ministry Irina Andrianova said in televised remarks that “the fates of 96 people remain unknown.”

The Volga, Europe’s largest river in terms of length and discharge, is up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) wide. The river is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer months. Most of Russia’s largest cities are located in the Volga River basin.

The boat, called Bulgaria, was built in 1955 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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