Russia mourns cruise ship deaths

Boats in the Volga River blew a long and melancholy blast on their horns at noon today in a sign of mourning for the victims of a cruise vessel that sank while crowded with holiday-makers.





The confirmed death toll from Sunday's sinking of the ship stands at 63, but more than 60 people remain missing and hopes for finding any alive have shrunk to almost nil.



The 55-year-old double-decker boat, the Bulgaria, was carrying 208 people when it sank, a load of about 75 per cent more than it was licensed to carry. But whether the overloading was a factor in the sinking remains undetermined. Investigators say survivors report that the boat was listing to starboard and having engine trouble even as it left the town of Bulgar en route to Kazan, about 450 miles east of Moscow.



President Dmitry Medvedev declared today a national day of mourning for the disaster. Flagstaffs were hung with black ribbons, vessels on the Volga blew their horns and dropped wreaths into the waters and officials made somber statements.



"It is especially bitter and hard because there were so many children. It is our future and the memory of them should be kept with every one of us," Transport Minister Igor Levitin said at a memorial service in Kazan.



But such sentiments sounded disingenuous to many Russians.



Moscow resident Igor Kondratyev, asked who he thought bore the blame for the sinking, said "The transport chiefs of the country, who else? They don't do anything at all. Everything is the same as it was a long time ago ... one should build new, not use the old."



Of Russia's more than 1,500 passenger vessels, more than 100 are as old or older than the sunken vessel, according to the Transportation Ministry.



Medvedev has ordered a full inspection of the country's passenger fleet.



Divers continued to search the wreckage at a depth of about 20 metres today. News reports said they were approaching what is likely to be one of the most heart-wrenching parts of the operation, searching the entertainment hall of the vessel where survivors said some 50 children had gathered shortly before the Bulgaria sank.



"I think that is the terrible moment everyone is waiting for. Some with horror, someone with hope," said Kazan resident Lyubov Gordeyeva.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat