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October 16, 2021

At least 41 killed, scores missing after boat sinks in Russia

The vessel was overloaded. At least 50 children among the missing, feared dead.

Relatives of passengers aboard a shipwreck react while waiting for a fresh information at a river Station in Kazan, about 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Moscow on the Volga River, in central Russia.

MOSCOW – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has demanded checks on all transport services after an overloaded boat sank on the Volga River, leaving 110 people missing and feared dead, according to BBC News. Medvedev said the old, double-decker tourist boat was in a poor condition. Around 80 people were rescued on the River Volga in Tatarstan, about 750km east of Moscow.

Officials say the boat’s capacity was 120 passengers and crew, but it had been carrying 208 people on Sunday. At least 50 children are feared to be among the dead. A survivor said children had gathered in a play area on deck just before the boat went down.

At a government meeting on Monday Medvedev called for “a complete check on all means of passenger transport”. Russia had too many “old rust tubs”, he complained. He declared Tuesday a day of mourning across Russia for the Volga River victims.

Officials say there is little hope of finding any more survivors. So far 41 bodies have been recovered. Divers saw many more bodies inside the sunken vessel.

The double-decker Bulgaria was caught in a storm on Sunday while sailing from Bolgary to the regional capital, Kazan. It sank within minutes at one of the widest points of the river, at about 1400 (1000 GMT).

The bad weather, mechanical failure on the 55-year-old vessel and overcrowding have all been cited as possible reasons why the boat sank. Nearly 50 Russian divers were scouring the murky river on Monday.

The Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation, amid suspicions that negligence contributed to the tragedy. Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said the boat was overcrowded, carrying 208 people, of whom 25 had not been registered as passengers. Russian media also report that one of the boat’s two engines was not working.

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