Nearly 100 missing after boat sinks in Russia’s Volga

MOSCOW,  (Reuters) – Nearly 100 people were missing  after a tourist boat sank in Russia’s Volga river yesterday,  killing at least one person, emergency services officials said.

One body was recovered and 84 people were rescued by a  passing vessel after the two-deck river cruiser, believed to  have been carrying 182 people, sank in the Tatarstan region,  Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said.

Two of those saved were hospitalised and a rescue team  searched for survivors in the choppy waters, she said.

The boat was heading to the regional capital, Kazan, 800 km  (500 miles) east of Moscow, when it sank about 3 km from shore  in 20 metres of water, the ministry’s regional branch said.

Cruises on the Volga, which cuts through the heart of Russia  and drains into the Caspian Sea, are popular among Russians as  well as foreigners.

The cause of the sinking was unclear, Andrianova said. She  said there were 125 passengers, 22 crew and 35 other staff  aboard the boat, called the Bulgaria. It was built in 1955 in  Czechoslovakia, then a Soviet satellite.

Russian news agencies said the Bulgaria, which state TV said  had dozens of cabins and two restaurants, had taken passengers  to a city downriver in Tatarstan on Saturday and was returning  to Kazan when it sank.

State television said the boat had only two lifeboats  instead of the initial four. Itar-Tass cited the company that  owned it as saying it was in working order and had passed  inspections.

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