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101 missing, two found dead after Russian tourist boat sinks

MOSCOW — A half-century-old tourist boat with 188 people on board listed and sank quickly in one of the world's largest reservoirs amid wind and rain Sunday, authorities and survivors said, and dozens of children were believed to be among the 101 people missing. Two bodies were recovered.

About 30 children gathered in a cockpit in the double-decker Bulgaria moments before it sank into the reservoir on the Volga River, a survivor told the Interfax news agency. Russia's Vesti 24 television quoted another survivor as saying that the boat "tilted to the right and sank within minutes."

Crew members had time to open only two lifeboats, and could release only one from the ship, survivors told the Itar Tass news agency.

By early today, two bodies had been recovered from the 66-foot-deep waters of the giant Kuibyshev reservoir, 2 miles from shore.

The regional emergency ministry of Tatarstan said two swam to shore, while a passing riverboat picked up 83 people and the body of a woman. The body of another woman was found later, authorities said. All aboard were believed to be Russian.

One survivor told Vesti 24 that other ships refused to come to their aid.

Emergency teams and divers from neighboring regions rushed to the site of the tragedy, 450 miles east of Moscow.

Early today, officials in Moscow and Tatarstan said the boat had held 150 passengers and 38 crew members. The cause of the sinking was not yet clear.

The Volga is up to 19 miles wide and is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer months.

The Bulgaria was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia and belongs to a local tourism company.

It was traveling from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.

Russia's Union of Tourism Industry said the ship had not been inspected and retrofitted for years, according to the Interfax news agency.

101 missing, two found dead after Russian tourist boat sinks 07/10/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 10:57pm]
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