Death Toll Rising after Cruise Boat Sinking in Russia
Rescue divers performed the grim task of searching for bodies after the sinking of a cruise boat on Russia's Volga River on Sunday. According to the Russian publication RIA Novosti, the official death toll is currently listed at 24, but is expected to rise after the accident. While 80 people were rescued, more than 100 remain missing of the estimated 200 passengers onboard. The cruise ship Bulgaria was on a two-day cruise from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital of Kazan when it sank in stormy water on the river in the republic of Tatarstan. The Bulgaria, built in 1955, sank in water approximately 65 feet deep, at a distance of two miles from shore.
NPR reported that as of Monday afternoon, 41 bodies had been recovered, including five children according to sources in the regional Emergencies Ministry office. Rescue divers searching for survivors are said to have seen dozens of bodies trapped in the wreckage of the ship, and none are thought to be alive. Several survivors reported that children had gathered in a central play room in the stern of the ship minutes before the vessel sank. It is thought that few of these children survived. Survivor Natalya Makarova told state television that she lost her grip on her ten-year old daughter as the ship went down, and believes that she has perished. Makarova told reporters that passengers were "all buried alive in the boat like in a metal coffin" as the ship was sinking.
Varying reports about the final moments of the ship before it sank are circulating. Several sources claim that two ships passed by the sinking Bulgaria without stopping to assist. Other survivors state that the ship was listing to one side, even as it left Bulgar, and their pleas to the captain to turn back the tilting vessel were ignored. Another survivor of the accident told a journalist that the emergency exit doors had been sealed shut, preventing escape.Continued on the next page