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KHABAROVSK, the Russian Far East, April 23 (Itar-Tass) — Ice drifting on the Amur River threw eight river vessels ashore on Monday. A small river tugboat, a passenger ship for 120 people, barges and tankers were battered down, dented and overturned by huge blocks of ice.
The damage is estimated at millions of rubles. The Federal Agency for Fisheries and private entrepreneurs that own the ships will have to exert extra efforts to repair them.
River experts believe there’s no threat of petroleum products getting into the Amur River because the ships were free from oil and lubricants after the winter season.
The Amur Shipping Line, the region’s main shipping company, explained that the eight ships didn’t belong to it. Its representatives added that the Line’s main fleet was ready for a new navigation season that is starting on the Amur on May 4-5.
In the meantime, the Neva River in St. Petersburg, a vital inland artery of the Volga-Baltic waterway, will open for navigation on April 30 after a long winter season. More than 30 minor rivers, canals, spates and channels have already opened to navigation.
The mechanisms of all 12 bridges spanned over the Neva and its minor tributaries were carefully examined and repaired in winter. All crossings are equipped with a single information system which transmits all data on the condition of bridge equipment to a central engineering pool.
An automatic bridge control system takes account of the specific features of every bridge. Most repairs and diagnostics works took place from December to April. More than 4,600 large-capacity cargo ships on average pass through the draw spans on the Neva River during navigation season. Nine out of eighteen city drawbridges are raised more than 2,300 times during a shipping season that lasts from April to November. St. Petersburg has 406 bridges. There are a total of 600 bridges in the city and its suburbs.