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Accidents frequent in Black Sea area where ship recently sank — experts

April 21, 2017, 2:29 UTC+3 KRASNODAR

Experts attrubute the disaster to peculiarities of the area and the vessel's class

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KRASNODAR, April 20. /TASS/. The recent shipwreck in the Black Sea took place in the dangerous zone where accidents are frequent, maritime experts told TASS.

"Ships perish in this area annually, in November, February and early spring. One year, three vessels in a row sank in a winter navigational season," Olga Ananyina, an inspector with the International Transport Workers’ Federation in Novorossiisk, told TASS on Thursday.

The chairman of the Black Sea - Azov branch of the Russian sailors’ union, Alexei Belyakov, attributes frequent shipwrecks in the area to large waves that appear due to a particular relief of the seabed.

"At first, the waters are deep, and then they are getting more shallow. That is why waves gain height and, respectively, amplitude in this area. When a wave of this kind hits an old ship, it starts to break," Belyakov said. "That’s why a number of limitations is imposed on vessels of the river-sea class."

The first deputy chairman of the Russian Professional Union of Sailors, Igor Kovalchuk, explained that vessels of the river-sea class must avoid rough seas.

"They are initially intended to sail across rivers, but certain improvements were made to turn them into river-sea veseels," he said. "Those ships are subjected to significant limits on the region of their voyage and the height of waves. They are not allowed to take to the sea when waves are higher than a certain limit," Kovalchuk said.

The dry cargo ship - the Heroes of Arsenal - capsized while at anchorage in the Black Sea on April 19. The captain sent out an SOS at about 04:00 Moscow time.

The ship had 12 crew members aboard: nine Ukrainians, two Russians and one Georgian. A motorman was picked up from water, suffering from severe hypothermia. So far, three dead bodies have been recovered and identified, and eight people are still missing. The active phase of the search operation ended on Thursday.

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