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Hopes fade for survivors from Russian boat tragedy

Hopes fade for survivors from Russian boat tragedy
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A desperate search is underway in the Russian Volga for more than 100 people who are missing after their cruise ship sank.

So far 85 people have been rescued, mostly by a vessel that was nearby when, for reasons unknown, the Bulgaria capsized and went down in just minutes.

Rescue workers admit hopes of finding any more survivors are slim.

The Bulgaria, with 188 passengers and crew, was on a two-day cruise in the Tatarstan region when it ran into trouble three kilometres from shore.

An emergency operation by air and water was immediately launched.

But an investigation into the safety record of the 55-year-old vessel is also underway.

Shipping expert Mikhail Mozjukhin explained: “In the Soviet era, these ships were intended to be in service for 25 years.

But after maintenance and repairs, they could be used indefinitely. These ships have to be checked yearly by the Registry, who has to give permission for further use.”

Cruising on the Volga is a popular tourist choice at this time of year.

The Bulgaria was on its way back from the regional capital, Kazan, when it sank.