Russian salvage teams will begin an operation on July 16 to raise the wreck of the tour ship Bulgaria, which sank on Sunday in Russia`s Volga River leaving dozens dead, Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti.
The latest casualty report says 205 people were onboard when the vessel capsized and sank in under three minutes. The Emergencies Ministry confirmed the death of 73 people, 11 of them children, on Tuesday.
"The rescue operation will begin on July 16, 5.00 p.m. [local time]" Shoigu said. Two floating cranes are to arrive at the site of the shipwreck by July 17.
The twin-deck Bulgaria sank on Sunday at 01:58 PM Moscow time (09:58 GMT) near the village of Syukeyevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan.
The ship, built in 1955 and renovated 30 years ago, had no license for carrying passengers and had a number of safety faults, including a broken engine and a list to starboard as well as being grossly overloaded.
The operators of the Bulgaria had no rights to provide tour services, Oleg Moseev, spokesman for the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, Rosturism said on Tuesday.
Neither the AgroRechTur company that held the lease of the Bulgaria, nor the Intur-Volga travel agency that sold tickets for the ill-fated cruise were listed in the Unified Russian Federal Roaster of Tour Operators. Neither company was therefore insured.
Witnesses said the vessel rolled on its right side in storm and sank in minutes. Rescuers say that the ill-fated ship could have been sunk by a large wave and may have flooded rapidly due to open portholes and the list.
The ship`s electrician Vasily Bairashev, who survived the wreck, said the captain, Alexander Ostrovsky, tried to keep the vessel afloat when it was caught in storm, but "this was already impossible in practice."
The tragedy prompted Russian authorities to suspend the use of three similar vessels.
"We have roughly 18 vessels of this type, including three on domestic routes. We decided to put their use on hold," Russian transport minister said.
Tuesday was declared a nationwide day of mourning and memorial services will be held in all Russian Orthodox churches. Russian TV and radio stations will not broadcast entertainment programs and advertising.