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VLADIVOSTOK, December 19 (Itar-Tass) —— The dead bodies found on Monday in the Sea of Okhotsk, where the drilling rig Kolskaya had sunk, are taken aboard the vessel Smith Sakhalin.
Seven of the bodies are already recovered from the water, the press service of the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Far Eastern regional centre said.
Seven various objects are seen from the vessel. These may be bodies or some things on the surface, the press service said. Rescuers cannot say whether the seven objects are dead bodies until they are recovered from the water.
The Rosmorrechflot federal marine and river transport agency told Itar-Tass that 16 dead bodies were found and that the search area was enlarged in the southwestern direction in connection with the strong wind.
The floating drilling rig Kolskaya capsized and sank in the sea on December 18. Out of the 67 people who were aboard the platform, only 14 have been rescued. Four of them, who seriously suffered hypothermia, on Sunday were airlifted by a Mi-8 helicopter of the Aviashelf airline to the settlement of Nogliki in northern Sakhalin. They are undergoing a course of treatment there.
Seven of the survivors are aboard the Neftegaz-55 tugboat. They will be taken to the port of Korsakov in southern Sakhalin on Monday. The tugboat is planned to arrive in the harbour on December 20. Other three remain aboard the Magadan icebreaker.
A Mi-8 helicopter participating on Sunday in the search found four bodies in the sea. The helicopter crew made attempts to lift the bodies aboard, but it was impossible because of high waves and a strong wind, Aviashelf reported on Monday.
According to the latest reports, 14 people were rescued, 16 died and 37 are missing.
A criminal case is opened over the rig wreck on charges of sea transport safety regulations violation that caused deaths. The main versions under consideration are violation of the safety regulations in the towing operation and ignoring of the bad weather conditions.
The rig sank in a central area of the Sea of Okhotsk, 200 km off the Sakhalin coast at a depth of over a kilometre.
Investigators will question the survivors. First of fall, the actions and the decisions of the transport operation organizers and the participants will be analyzed, a source at the Far Eastern transport prosecutor's office said.