MIAMI, FL— July 12, 2011 – An overcrowded ship capsized on the Volga River in Russia on July 10, 2011, resulting in at least 55 fatalities and leaving dozens of additional passengers missing. Although the Russian riverboat had a maximum passenger capacity of 150 people and was only equipped with 156 life vests, 208 people were aboard the vessel “Bulgaria” when it sank, as reported by CNN.
While 79 accident victims have been rescued thus far, many remain missing as the Emergency Situations Ministry regional office is expected to soon bring search and rescue missions to a close. Many of the survivors were reportedly taken to area hospitals to be treated for unspecified injuries.
Noting that the exact number of cruise passengers missing was unknown, officials said there was a possibility survivors may have swam to the riverbank or one of the several neighboring islands. More than 80 rescue divers have taken to the water so far.
According to the Russian Prosecutor’s Office, the corroded and overcrowded Bulgaria cruise ship, which was constructed in 1955, was not a certified passenger ship. Furthermore, the riverboat had not undergone repairs in more than three decades and was operating despite the fact that its left engine was broken before it sank.
According to a crew member aboard the vessel Arabella, which recovered numerous survivors following the capsize disaster, “It all happened so fast. The crew did not have time to pull out the lifeboats and were able to lower only two inflatable rafts. Many passengers simply jumped into the water. Few escaped from the chaos in the water, I’m afraid.”
Following the deadly Russian ship accident, President Dmitry Medvedev contended, “It is clear that such an accident couldn’t have taken place if safety rules were followed, even despite the difficult weather situation… We have to establish why the owner of the ship operated a ship that was in such a poor technical condition.”
Medvedev noted that “a total inspection of all public carriers in Russia” would be underway on the basis that it is “obvious that this ship was not the only one with issues.” Investigations into the cruise ship wreck are underway.
The Miami cruise ship injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz note that it is often difficult to hold vessel owners accountable for negligent actions, which can leave passengers and ship crew members subject to preventable harm. For accidents to be prevented and victims to obtain just compensation for their injuries and damages, changes must be made to the cruise industry, which has long lacked sufficient regulation. Reform is imperative.
About the Miami cruise ship injury lawyers and boat accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A.
With four decades of experience litigating the multifaceted personal injury and wrongful death claims of boat and cruise line passengers who are hurt or assaulted onboard, the knowledgeable Florida boating accident lawyers of Gerson & Schwartz are dedicated to protecting the rights of these individuals and fighting to provide them with the compensation they deserve. Working closely with the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Miami personal injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. strive to provide justice to individuals who suffer serious injuries in a wide variety of boating accidents.