Russian officials say they have encountered a problem trying to raise the sunken tour boat, Bulgaria, from the bottom of the Volga River in Tartarstan. Fifteen victims remain missing from the disaster last week that killed at least 129 people. Officials say if they cannot pull the vessel out of the water Monday, they will continue first thing Tuesday.
Russia’s Emergency Ministry said one of the cables attached to the riverboat Bulgaria ruptured, delaying the raising of the vessel from the muddy bottom.
The overloaded boat sank July 10 on the Volga River about two miles from the shore in Tartarstan. Aboard the Bulgaria were 208 people, including many children. There were only 79 survivors.
Roman Lizalin is the captain of the Arabella, one of the vessels involved in the rescue effort. Speaking on Russia’s state-run English-language television channel, Russia Today, he said trying to save the victims was difficult.
"When we got them on board we had so much to deal with - of course they were panic-stricken, they were in deep shock," said Lizalin. "What happened was quite horrible; my crew members who were involved in rescue works became deeply involved, too. Some people were in a dreadful condition, many were injured. They had oil all over their skin because when the ship sank the fuel oil came up to the surface and spread everywhere and covered them. That made the rescue even harder because the oil made the victims greasy and hard to get a hold of to pull them on board. Seeing children in that condition, that was particularly heart-breaking."
Officials say the Bulgaria had no license to carry passengers and had a problem with its left engine.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed the disaster on the greed of local tour operators.
A licensing official and the operator of the vessel have been arrested on charges that could put them behind bars for 10 years.