11 Jul 2011

Scores feared dead after boat sinks in central Russia

11:03 pm on 11 July 2011

About 110 people, many of them children, are feared dead after an old tourist boat sank in central Russia.

About 80 people were rescued on the River Volga in Tatarstan, about 750km east of Moscow, the BBC reports.

Thirteen deaths have been confirmed, but reports say divers have seen numerous bodies inside the sunken vessel.

The double-decker Bulgaria was carrying 196 passengers and crew when it was caught in a storm on Sunday while sailing to the regional capital Kazan.

The bad weather, mechanical failure on the 55-year-old vessel and overcrowding have all been cited as possible reasons why the boat sank.

The Bulgaria, leased by a local tourism company, was on a two-day cruise when it got into difficulty about 2pm local time, sinking within minutes at one of the widest points of the river.

Nearly 50 Russian divers were scouring the murky river on Monday.

Authorities have begun a criminal investigation, amid suspicions that negligence contributed to the tragedy.