Medvedev demands transport review after Volga boat accident

11th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday called for a total review of Russia's transportation infrastructure after a Volga River boat accident left more than 100 people missing and presumed dead.

"We have to conduct a total review of all means of transportation involved in moving passengers," Medvedev told a government meeting in nationally televised remarks.

Medvedev added that Sunday's accident could have been avoided if all safety procedures had been observed.

Russian investigators and prosecutors said the ship, the Bulgaria, was filled well beyond capacity when it sank in a heavy storm. A passing rescue boat managed to pick up some 80 people and bring them back safely to shore.

"Based on the information we have today, the ship was in an unsuitable condition," Medvedev said.

"It is already clear today that this could not have happened if the oversight measures and technical safety regulations were being observed," the Russian president added.

The boat disaster came less than a month after a Russian plane crash forced Medvedev to issue recommendations to phase out the use of some of the country's older Soviet-era planes.

The Russian leader said the investigation into Sunday's accident should cover both the authorities who checked on the ship's safety and those who operated the ill-fated trip.

The president's envoy to the Volga region confirmed that 24 bodies had been raised to the surface Monday, taking the total to 25, the Interfax news agency reported.

Medvedev also confirmed plans to raise the sunken craft from the bottom of the river. Officials had earlier said the procedure should take about five days.

The Bulgaria was built in 1955 in what was then Czechoslovakia and was one of 36 such ships supplied for Soviet use.

Officials said the boat went down too quickly to lower the two lifeboats on board. At least 30 children have been reported missing and are feared dead.

© 2011 AFP

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