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Ship fire at Moscow river port brought under control

November 14, 2011, 14:13 UTC+3

The fire broke out on the motor ship at about 04:00 Moscow time on Monday

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MOSCOW, November 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The fire on the Sergei Abramov motor ship at the Severny (Northern) river port in Moscow is localized, the head of the press service of the Moscow department for emergencies, Yevgeny Bobylev, told Itar-Tass.

The blaze is localized. The work is continuing to extinguish the fire, he said.

The fire broke out on the motor ship at about 04:00 Moscow time on Monday. Thirty two crews of firefighters have been fighting the blaze for over eight hours.

Aboard the vessel there were 31 people -- 15 visitors of the restaurant and 16 crew members. Seven people were rescued. Four are injured. Two of them are taken to hospital.

The fire fighting operation was complicated by many factors. The vessel, which moored the day before, had 33 t of fuel. Firefighters had to pump out the fuel. The strong wind fanned the blaze. A total of 1,500 sq m were afire. The vessel is old. It has narrow wooden passageways, and it also complicates the fire fighting work, Bobylev noted.

According to the captain, the motor ship was built in 1960 and was expected to be in operation for 25 years. However, the Sergei Abramov was on Volga cruises last summer.

In the firefighting operation, the ship tilts. To prevent the vessel from capsizing, water is pumped out from there with pumping stations. There is no threat of sinking. The blaze is fought with a foam attack.

The captain said the fire might have been caused by carelessness when smoking or by an on-board electric system fault.

Specialists of the state fire inspection service will begin working at the site after the blaze is extinguished, Bobylev said.

The fate of one man, a crewmember, a motor mechanic, is still unknown.

In winter time, the ship is used as a hotel. Only the restaurant worked aboard overnight. Hotel services were not provided yet.

Traffic on roads near the port was limited because of the fire. Traffic police asked drivers to choose bypass ways. Thick smoke was seen over the site. Smoke spread through ventilation systems into the Rechnoi Vokzal metro station.

The three-deck motor ship Sergei Abramov was built in Czechoslovakia in 1960. It was reconstructed in 2003. It was believed to be one of the best river cruise ships. The vessel for 146 passengers is 96.18 m long and 14.99 m wide. Its draft is 2.4 m. The speed is up to 25 km/h. The ship was formerly named Druzhba and Captain Rachkov.

A comedy film, "the Day of Elections", was shot aboard the ship.

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