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Over 100 Dead in Russian Cruise Ship Tragedy

Bulgaria Cruise ShipThe tragic sinking of the Bulgaria cruise ship on Sunday in Russia’s Volga River has resulted in the deaths of at least 100 people. Russian authorities have reported that a total of 102 bodies have been recovered – two of which were children on Wednesday – while 79 people were rescued. Some of the rescued have already been treated and released from hospitals. However, out of the 208 people thought to have been on board the ship, there are still 20 unaccounted for. The Emergency Situations Ministry said that at least 85 of the bodies have been identified.

Officials are not taking this tragic incident lightly either, as four people are now facing charges. The general director of Argorechtur, which rented the cruise boat, Svetlana Inyakina has been detained, according to the Investigative Committee in Russia. Kama River Register manager Yakov Ivashov has been detained by authorities as well.

The pair is being charged with providing cruise ship services without meeting safety standards, resulting in multiple deaths. Apparently the ship did not have a license to carry passengers, was last repaired over three decades ago and was overloaded.  It had a limit of carrying 150 passengers and only had 156 life vests on board. Prosecutors have also found that the left engine was damaged. If the pair is convicted, they could face up to 10 years of jail time.

The captains of two other ships are also facing criminal charges, as they are accused of passing the sinking cruise ship without helping the people out of the water. They could be imprisoned for up to three years or be heavily fined.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that specialist military divers arrived at the scene where a cruise ship sank. The 175 divers specialise in lifting sunken ships and rescue operations and have been ordered to present a plan to bring the Bulgaria cruise ship to the surface of Volga River as soon as they can. Some of the divers helped lift Kursk, the Russian nuclear submarine that exploded and sank in August 2000 in the Barents Sea.

Russian transport minister Igor Levitin is heading the government commission investigating the tragedy. He says the divers will scour around the clock until every victim is found. They will also be using small planes in their recovery efforts, taking exploration flights as far as 80 miles downstream.

Aside from this, the nation observed a day of mourning on Tuesday. There were flags flying at half-staff, all entertainment programming was cancelled on national television and church services were held throughout the country. Prime minister Vladimir Putin said that the federal government is going to pay 1 million rubles to every victim’s family; 400,000 rubles to those with major and moderately severe injuries; and 200,000 rubles to those with minor injuries.



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