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MOSCOW, August 17 (Itar-Tass) - Four people died and 49 were injured as a result of a steamship-barge collision on the River Irtysh in Omsk Region, the Emergencies Ministry said.
“Four people died and 49 were taken to hospitals in Omsk,” the ministry told ITAR-TASS on Saturday, August 17.
The West-Siberian Investigative Department did not confirm reports that the collision might have happened because the man on the steamship’s wheel was drunk.
“The crew has not undergone medical examination yet,” the Department’s representative told ITAR-TASS, adding that it was too early to speak about such a possibility.
“There were 62 people and four crewmembers aboard the steamship,” the Russian Investigative Committee said earlier in the day.
The steamship Polessye was sailing from Omsk, carrying, among others, pilgrims who were heading to one of the local convents, which is located 50 km south of Omsk on the Irtysh and frequently visited by Orthodox believers from the whole of Siberia and North Kazakhstan.
Vladimir Korbut, head of the Emergencies Ministry’s branch in Omsk Region, said the accident had happened because of the gross violation of the navigation rules by the steamship’s captain who had been drunk and had been detained by police. The steamship steered into the opposite side of the navigable pass and collided head-on with a barge. “The captains of both vessels have already been questioned. Investigators are now working with witnesses and seizing technical documentation,” Korbut said.