On Sunday, a river cruise ship called The Bulgaria carrying 208 vacationers overturned during its voyage. Only 79 of the passengers were rescued. More than 100 people found themselves trapped inside the capsizing ship, which sunk in less than two minutes.
The eastern press is calling the Bulgaria The Russian Titanic, although the only similarity between the vessels is that they both sank.
The Titanic was the most state-of-the-art ship of its time. It was brand new and larger than any other ocean liner in existence. White Star Lines -- the company that owned the boat -- called the Titanic unsinkable. The boat was a beacon of luxury.
Of course, the Titanic did not live up to its expectations, and sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Bulgaria sinking was drastically different. The ship was built in Czechoslovakia over fifty years ago and has been sailing with limited inspection for the last thirty.
It is believed that the Bulgaria went down because of poor boat maintenance and outdated equipment. The ship was built in 1955, and all of its parts were from the Soviet era. It was likely that a lack of regulation and safety inspections caused the deaths of up to 120 people, unlike the Titanic, which couldn't have been more up to date.
According to reports, the Bulgaria hadn't been seriously serviced since 1980, and one of the its engines was under-powered before the 56-year-old vessel set sail. When wind and choppy waters turned the boat sideways -- a dangerous position for any boat to be in -- the captain was unable to right the ship before it tipped.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called the ship a rust tub. The same was never said of the Titanic during the short time it was at sea.
The sinking in the Volga River has brought international attention to a problem that has bedeviled Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Privately held tourism companies, including airline and cruise liners, often sacrifice safety for profit, snatching up the cheapest vessels and over-filling them with eager vacationers.
Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have initiated widespread probes of the country's regulatory and inspection system and are frantically trying to hold people accountable for the disaster.
The Russian government is already holding two people responsible for the sinking of the river boat, and is searching for two more.
On this point, the Russian Titanic moniker is accurate. Both events were devastating tragedies, and both could probably have been avoided.