The Russian cruise ship, Bulgaria, sank yesterday, July 10th, leaving dozens dead and more missing 12 miles (20 k) outside the town of Bulgar.
The double-decker ship, carrying an estimated 208 passengers, was traveling from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital Kazan when it capsized, leaving a confirmed 50 dead, including 5 children, and more than 80 missing, according to Russia's Emergency Ministry website. The ship sank about two miles (3k) off shore on the Volga River at 1:58 pm local time.
Survivors reported the vessel was leaning as it made a turn and a wave washed over the deck. The ship, built in Czechoslovakia in 1955, had not been updated in years and sank fast, within five minutes. The boat was also overloaded, carrying around 80 more people than 120 passengers it was licensed to carry. Officials reported that the left engine was also malfunctioning even though the ship had passed a technical inspection last month.
Rescuers from neighboring towns and regions continue to comb the Volga River reservoir, but have little hope of retrieving any more survivors.
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev declared tomorrow, Tuesday, an official day of mourning. He has also called for a complete review of all of Russia's 1,568 registered passenger vessels- more than 100 of which are as old or older than the Bulgaria. Medvedev plans to repair or decommission all ailing and aging ships in an effort to prevent another tragedy.
These passenger vessels are often popular tourist excursions, especially in the summer, for visitors who want to take a cruise down Europe's longest river. Because Russia garners a lot of tourism from these ships, the government has made refurbishing and certifying them a top priority. They will need to if they want to keep visitors coming.