Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Twelve drown after boat capsizes near Odessa in Black Sea

AFP, KIEV

At least 12 people drowned on Saturday when an overloaded passenger boat capsized in the Black Sea near Odessa in southern Ukraine, officials said.

“The reason for this tragedy were storms and an absence of life jackets. Twelve people drowned and one is missing,” said Volodymyr Jmak, a deputy of the governor of Odessa region.

He said that the vessel, the Ivolga, had been carrying 36 people, including three crew, when it sank mid-afternoon.

Jmak said the remaining 23 passengers were safe, of whom 18 remained in hospital late on Saturday evening.

In a statement, the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure said the boat was heavily overloaded and only had a permit to carry 12 passengers and three crew.

“According to preliminary findings, that is the cause of the tragedy,” it said.

“The search operation is difficult owing to the storm but is ongoing,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Andriy Pivovarsky said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for a commission of inquiry into the sinking while police said an investigation had been opened to look at apparent violations of safety regulations.

Regional governor Mikhail Saakashvili said in a post on Facebook that he would cut short a visit to the western city of Lviv to head for the scene at Zatoka, a village about 50km from Odessa.

“A terrible tragedy occurred today in Zatoka. A pleasure boat was caught in a very strong storm and went down a kilometer from the river bank. Twelve deaths and 18 people hospitalized. Terrible,” said Maria Gaidar, deputy to Saakashvili, also on Facebook.

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