Moscow: With flags flying half mast,
black ribbons on the government buildings and church prayers
across the country, Russia on Tuesday mourned the death of as many
as 130 people who were killed when an overloaded vintage boat
sank on the Volga river in the republic of Tatarstan.
After round-the-clock rescue efforts, bodies of 82
people from the Bulgaria pleasure boat have been lifted on the
surface by the divers, while bodies of up to 40 children
remain trapped in the Children`s Room on the lower deck, local
TV channels reported.
According to state-run Rossiya 24 channel, last night
a special diving module capable of cutting metal underwater
was airlifted to Tatarstan to gain access to the room where up
to 40 children were assembled before the ill-fated boat turned
over and sank within minutes.
Bodies of five children have already been brought to
In addition to the wreck site, three kilometres from
the shore, the search operation includes the banks and islands
in an area extending some 40 km downstream.
"The works must continue," Emergencies Minister Sergey
Shoigu ordered in a televised meeting of the Crisis Centre.
The total number of people onboard the vessel is now
estimated at 205 passengers and crew members, 79 of them were
saved by a passing ship the "Arabella".
On Saturday, the Ministry of Emergencies will begin
the operation to lift the whole sunken vessel to the surface
as some bodies could still remain trapped.