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Russia investigates cruise vessel’s sinking

Associated Press / July 13, 2011

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KAZAN, Russia - A criminal negligence investigation was opened yesterday into the sinking of a cruise vessel on the Volga River that killed scores of people, and two ships that allegedly sailed past the tragedy.

The confirmed death toll from Sunday’s sinking of the cruise vessel stood at 88, but more than 41 people remained missing and hopes for finding any alive were fading.

Boats on the waterway sounded their horns at noon yesterday to mourn the victims, many of whom were children.

The 55-year-old double-decker boat, the Bulgaria, was overloaded when it sank, but it wasn’t clear to what degree. The Investigative Committee said yesterday that there were 192 people aboard, dozens more than it was licensed to carry. The Emergencies Ministry said the boat had more than 200 on board. Whether overloading was a factor in the sinking remains undetermined.

Russia’s Investigative Committee announced yesterday that the director of the tour agency that operated the Bulgaria and an official of the agency that registers river vessels had been detained and that a criminal case has been opened against them.

The committee opened a separate case against the captains of two ships that reportedly passed by at the time of the sinking but did not stop, ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

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