Volga Ferry Boat Accident Claims Lives of Children


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:38 PM EDT, 12 July 2011

VOLGA RIVER, Russia - 83 people are presumed drowned in Russia's Volga river after a ferry-boat accident this past Sunday.

To date the divers have retrieved the bodies of 16 children, 51 women and 16 men but many bodies remain trapped in the wreckage according to divers. 79 passengers were rescued by a passing riverboat just before the ferry sank beneath the surface. This tragedy is the latest international ferry accident with passenger deaths.

On July 7th a ferry sunk in Bangladesh killing 8 passengers after colliding with an oil tanker.  The accident appeared to be the result of human error.

The cause of the sinking of the 'Bulgaria', the name of the Volga ferry, has not been determined but improper safety procedures, maintenance and certification seem to be a contributory cause. The ferry was carrying 208 passengers which is 75 percent more than the 120 the boat was designed to transport.  Of these passengers, 50 were children who had gathered in the entertainment area of the ferry just before it sank.

Divers have retrieved the bodies floating in the river but claim to have seen the bodies of children trapped in the wreckage. A salvage mission to raise the boat from the bottom is scheduled for later this week.

The operators of the Volga ferry were not licensed to provide tour services.  Corruption and graft are suspected in this company's ability to continue to operate. Oleg Moseev, spokesman for the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, Rosturism is quoted as saying 'neither the AgroRechTur company that held the lease of the Bulgaria, nor the Intur-Volga travel agency that sold the cruise tickets were listed in the Unified Russian Federal Roster of Tour Operators and that neither company was therefore insured.'

The statement appeared to be an attempt by the government to distance itself from any culpability in the matter. Russia declared today a nationwide day of mourning and memorial services will be held in all Russian Orthodox churches.

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