KHABAROVSK, November 1 (Itar-Tass) — The investigators looking into the possible shipwreck of the Amurskaya bulk carrier believe it might have sunk in bad weather off the Shantar Islands. "The probable causes are navigating through storm, technical failure and violation of navigation rules by the captain and the shipowner," deputy director of the Far Eastern investigation department on the transport Konstantin Stolbin told reporters on Thursday. The vessel disappeared in the Sea of Okhotsk on October 28 as it was sailing 380 miles from the Kiran port facility in the Tuguro-Chumikansky district to Okhotsk.
He said the procedural check into the disappearance of the vessel has been completed and that criminal proceedings had been opened under Article 263, Part 3 of the penal code /"violation of safe navigation rules and operation of sea-going transport, which resulted in the death of two or more persons by negligence"/.
"Of course, we're still hoping for the best; the vessel might be hiding someplace to wait out the storm or it might have run aground, but we don't rule out a tragedy," Stolbin said.
He said the facts uncovered by the investigators make solid groundwork for opening the criminal case.
For example, the bulker loaded an excessive amount of gold ore, some 700 to 750 tons whereas its carrying capacity was 611 tones. Although the crew were experienced sailors, the bulker was understaffed as it sailed out, and a check found the names of the people in ship documents who did not even suspect they were crew members. "It is yet another reason for checking the shipowner," the investigator said.
The investigators said the loading/unloading regulations are violated at the Kiran port facility by ore-carrying vessels of the Nikolayevsky-on-Amur port. Bulldozers drag vessels toward the shore damaging their hulls in shallow water.
The investigators will also check the information about a recent shipwreck of a barge with gold ore.
An amphibious Be-200 plane recently returned from the search area, according to the far eastern department of the Emergency Situations Ministry. A total of 3,500 square kilometers of sea have been searched, but not traces of the bulker have been found.