9 killed in Moscow boat accident, overloading to blame

08:55, August 01, 2011      

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An overloaded private pleasure boat carrying 16 people sank in the Moscow river after bumping into a cargo barge early Sunday, leaving nine passengers dead, authorities said.

The boat "Lastochka" collided with a barge on July 31 at about 01:30 a.m. Moscow time (2130 GMT Saturday) in the Moscow river across the Luzhniki sports center, the Russian Investigative Committee (IC) confirmed in a report posted on its website.

As a result, the vessel sank with nine passengers on board, including captain and boat owner Gennady Zinger. All the nine died and their bodies have been recovered from the water, the report said.

Six other passengers aboard Lastochka were rescued and another swam to the shore himself. A Turkish national was among the survivors, the report said.

The vessel, which was registered in Russia's easternmost province of Chukotka, had permission to carry no more than 12 passengers, the IC said.

The committee has launched a criminal probe into the boat's violation of water transport safety and operation rules.

IC spokesman Vladimir Markin he spokesman said captain Zinger had three previous violation records, which include overloading.

The navigator of the boat spotted the barge too late and "did not manage to escape the collision," and the boat sank "within a minute," officials of Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry told Itar-tass news agency earlier.

Witnesses said the boat was making erratic movements and circling the barge before the collision. The boat was reportedly rent for an onboard birthday party Saturday night.

The accident came less than a month after two-decked cruise ship Bulgaria carrying 201 people sank in the Volga river, killing 122 passengers aboard. Overloading was also suspected to be the one of the main causes of the accident.

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