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Divers continue search for Amurskaya crew

November 10, 2012, 9:02 UTC+3
The freighter was found lying on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk at a depth of 25 metres near the Shantar Islands
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VLADIVOSTOK, November 10 (Itar-Tass) —— In the Sea of Okhotsk, divers of Russia’s EMERCOM continue for the second day searches for dead crew members on board the sunken Amurskaya freighter.

On Saturday, the weather is calm in the region of the search operation near the Shantar Islands.

The rescue operation is made from board or the Rubin vessel of the Sakhalin Basin Rescue Department, which is anchored at the location where the sunken vessel remains at the depth of 25 metres.

The divers go to the vessel in groups of two. Later on, one of them gets inside the vessel to inspect the facilities, and the second one remains outside to cover the partner. Nine divers are involved in the search operation, and during the day they are working in shifts, head of the Far East team of EMERCOM’s rescue division’s press service Vladimir Andreyev said on Saturday.

On October 28, the freighter Amurskaya with nine crewmembers aboard left the port of Kiran, the Khabarovsk Region, for the port of Okhotsk. According to the investigators' information, the ship had 700-750 tonnes of gold-containing ore aboard, though its load weight must not exceed 611 tonnes. Experts suppose the load could move in the storm, and supposedly because of this, the vessel capsized and sank.

Contact with the vessel was lost, and aircraft and ships examined more than 20,000 square kilometres near the Shantar Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk, and search groups examined more than 160 kilometres of the coast line of the Khabarovsk Territory in search of the missing ship. An empty life raft was found on Feklistov Island of the Shantar Archipelago. It is not established yet whether the raft is from the Amurskaya.

The freighter was found lying on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk at a depth of 25 metres near the Shantar Islands. Eight divers, including a doctor, worked at the site on Friday.

On Friday morning, the wind was 5-7 metres a second, it was cloudy, waves were one metre high, the temperature was near zero, and visibility was within eight miles in the area. The divers and an investigator were carried by a Mi-8 helicopter from Khabarovsk to the Rubin rescue vessel on Thursday. Another helicopter delivered a tonne of equipment for their work. Last Wednesday, three divers from the Rubin crew examined the sunken freighter, but did not get inside the vessel.

The motor ship is registered at the port of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, the vessel was built in 1973.

Director General of the Nikolayevsk-on-Amur Seaport JSC Alexander Shiltsin has been charged with violation of the rules of safety of navigation and operation of maritime transport, resulting in the death of two or more persons. “He knew for certain that the loading of raw materials on the dry-cargo ship was carried out in violation of the rules of transportation of dangerous cargoes,” and that “because of the bad weather conditions the ship cannot sail,” but the head of the port “personally gave instructions to the ship’s crew to sail in the Sea of Okhotsk,” the regional Investigation Department said.

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