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Rescuers engaged in boat lifting from Lake Teletskoye bottom

September 02, 2011, 11:24 UTC+3
The Volga hydrofoil capsized and sank in Lake Teletskoye 30 kilometres from the Artybash settlement
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BARNAUL, September 2 (Itar-Tass) — Rescuers are working to lift the Volga boat that sank in Lake Teletskoye in Altai on July 11. Preparatory work has been carried out at the incident site. Rescue workers on Friday plan to lift the boat and continue the search for four missing people, the Altai Territory’s emergencies department told Itar-Tass.

The Volga hydrofoil capsized and sank in Lake Teletskoye 30 kilometres from the Artybash settlement. The pleasure boat was carrying 13 people, including the captain. Nine people were rescued and taken to the shore by other vessels and another four – residents of the Altai Territory - are still unaccounted for.

Initially, the work to lift the vessel from the bottom of the lake did not yield results and was suspended. The operation was resumed only on September 1.

“During the first day of the work the Falcon deepwater submersible found the sunken boat and tethers were put there on which the hoisting ropes will be taken down,” the Altai Territory emergencies department noted.

According to preliminary data, the incident was caused by speeding of the vessel captain, he lost control of the hydrofoil. The suspected perpetrator was arrested.

Next day after the wreck the place where the boat sank was determined, however, the vessel was not found. The depth at that area of the Teletskoye Lake varies from 225 to 250 metres, so the divers could not work there. It was therefore decided to deliver to the republic specialised diving equipment for working at great depths. The boat is lying at a depth of 230-250 meters, unreachable for divers. Special equipment is needed to perform works at such depth, according to an emergencies spokesman. Rescuers have combed the lake’s coastline in the vicinity of the wreck scene but found no dead bodies of the four missing in the wreck.

In terms of depth, Teletskoye Lake is second after Lake Baikal in Russia.

The accident took place at 20:30 local time (17:30 Moscow time) on July 11 when the Volga-type hydrofoil, which was making a pleasure voyage, overturned and sank some 30 kilometres off the settlement of Artybash of the Turachak district of the republic. There were 13 persons on board the vessel, and nine were rescued from the water by passing motorboats. These nine people were taken to hospital. Four persons, including a teenager of 13-14 years of age, are still reported missing.

Head of the Altai Republic Alexander Berdnikov signed a resolution to provide material aid to the families of the missing passengers of the capsized hydrofoil – 100,000 roubles to each. A criminal case was opened for violations of safety rules.

Lake Teletskoye is the largest lake in the Altai Mountains and the Altai Republic, Russia. It is one of 25 deepest lakes in the world, having a depth of up to 325 metres. Situated at a height of 434 m (1,424 ft) above sea level, the lake is 78 km (48 miles) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide and lies between the mountain ridges Korbu and Al-tyntu, on the junction of Sailughem Mountains and Western Sayans. Its surface area is 233 square kilometres (90 sq mi); however, due to its considerable depth (325 m, 1,066 ft), the lake contains no less than 40 square km (9.6 cubic miles) of fresh water. Annual water level fluctuations are estimated at some 348 cm. The lake transparency is high, with the visibility of the lake water ranging from six to fourteen metres. About 70 rivers and 150 temporary streams flow into the lake, the largest of them, Chulyshman River, supplying more than half of the lake's water. The lake is drained through a single outlet, the Biya River, which, after its confluence with the Katun River, forms one of Siberia's largest rivers, the Ob River.

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