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VLADIVOSTOK, December 23 (Itar-Tass) — The Atlas rescue ship with bodies of six crewmembers of the sunken Kolskaya oilrig will arrive at the Sakhalin port of Korsakov on Saturday. On Friday, the Atlas through the storm waves reaching five metres in height and winds up to 30 metres per second, is making its way from the centre of the Sea of Okhotsk, where the Kolskaya rig sank, to the south - to Korsakov, the dispatcher service of the Sakhalin Basin Emergency-Rescue Administration reported. The Magadan icebreaker that participated in the search operation is also sailing to Korsakov.
The active search has been suspended due to “loss of reasonable hopes for the rescue of the accident victims and the approach of a deep cyclone,” the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport (RosMorRechFlot) of the RF Transport Ministry reported.
The decision to stop the active phase of the search operation was made by the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Maritime Rescue Coordination Sub-centre. It has said that this decision was made also in order “not to endanger the crews involved in the rescue operation.”
There were 67 people on the Kolskaya floating drilling rig. On December 18, the rig during towing off the west coast of Kamchatka to Sakhalin capsized and sank about 200 kilometres from the Sakhalin coast. On the first day of the emergency a total of 14 people were rescued. In the following days, 17 people were found dead on the surface of the sea. Thirty-six people are missing.
All the rescued are currently staying in Sakhalin. On December 22, the Smit Sakhalin ship transported 11 bodies of the accident victims to Korsakov.
Specialists of the Centre for emergency psychological assistance to Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) and Sakhalin psychologists have been providing psychological aid to those injured, relatives of the dead and missing persons. Psychologists of the Russian Emergencies Ministry are on permanent duty at hotels where the injured and relatives of the deceases are accommodated.
“The lists of the crew and passengers of the Kolskaya rig published by the ArcticMorNefteGazRazvedka (AMNGR) company that owned the rig, comprise 9 names of residents of the Magadan region,” the regional administration reported. They are chefs and other kitchen workers, housekeepers. All of them are listed among the missing. The regional authorities have decided to provide financial assistance amounting to 1 million roubles for each family affected by the accident.
Criminal proceedings have been instituted over the accident under Article 263, Part 3 of the RF Criminal Code (violation of rules of safety and operation of maritime transport, resulting in the death of two or more persons). The investigation is underway.
Kolskaya was a jack-up rig operating in the Russian Far East. It was built by Rauma-Repola in Finland in 1985 and was owned by AMNGR, a subsidiary of Zarubezhneft. Kolskaya was an independent leg cantilever type jack-up rig. It was 69 metres (226 ft) long and 80 metres (260 ft) wide, and could accommodate up to 102 people. Its rated water depth for operations was 328 feet (100 m). Its drilling depth was 21,325 feet (6,500 m).
On December 18, 2011 the rig, which was under tow during a fierce storm, capsized and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk. It was being towed by the icebreaker Magadan and the tugboat Neftegaz-55 having just completed an exploration well for Gazprom off the Kamchatka Peninsula. The incident happened some 200 kilometres (120 mi) off the coast of Sakhalin island, in waters more than 1000 metres deep. A search and rescue effort began as soon as the rig sunk and was halted five days later on December 22. Of the 67 people known to have been aboard Kolskaya, 14 have been rescued and 36 more are listed as missing. Only 17 bodies have been recovered. With 53 declared missing or dead, it is the largest number of casualties in an accident the Russian oil sector has ever experienced.