On 10 July 2011, Bulgaria sank in the Kuybyshev Reservoir of the Volga River near Syukeyevo, Kamsko-Ustyinsky District, Tatarstan, Russia, with 208 passengers and crew aboard when sailing from the town of Bolgar to the regional capital, Kazan. The catastrophe led to 114 confirmed deaths (bodies recovered and identified), with 15 persons still missing.
The sinking of Bulgaria is the largest Russian non-military ship disaster since 1986 when the SS Admiral Nakhimov crashed into a cargo ship and 423 people died.
Her length was 80.2 metres (263 ft), her beam was 12.5 metres (41 ft), her draft was 1.9 metres (6.2 ft), and her power output was 273 kilowatts (366 hp). She had two engines and two decks. Her cruising speed was 20.5 kilometres per hour (12.7 mph; 11.1 kn), and her original passenger capacity was 233 (then reduced after overhaul).
On 10 July 2011, Bulgaria was traveling in Tatarstan on the Volga River when she was caught in a storm and sank in several minutes at about 13:58 Moscow time (09:58 UTC), several hours after beginning its cruise.
This was apparently compounded by the captain trying to turn the boat around, and soon water rushed into the vessel through portholes that had been opened because the ship had no air conditioning.
According to a survivor, the sinking came without warning, and the vessel "listed to starboard ... and capsized and sank."
The boat sank within minutes, plunging nearly 20 metres (66 ft) to the river bed. The sinking occurred about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from shore, in the Kamsko-Ustyinsky District.
On 11 July 2011, a government official from the Ministry of Emergency Situations said that the likelihood of finding additional survivors was slim, leaving a presumed total of up to 129 dead.
Among the dead were believed to be at least 50 children. On 12 July 2011, the divers recovered bodies of Bulgaria's captain Alexander Ostrovsky and his spouse.
Of those, 76 were rescued by the cruise ship Arabella, a few others were saved by other boats, and one survivor managed to swim to the shore. At the time of the incident, Bulgaria passenger's count is estimated to have been at 208, though she was only rated to carry 120.
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The passing ships did not stop to help and the ICRF has launched an official investigation into these claims.
In accordance with Russian criminal code, article 270, the captain of a ship that refuses to help in disaster could be sentenced to up to two years of deprivation of freedom.
However it may also be that these ships, being heavy freight barges with minimal crews, were not technically capable of stopping while passing or of turning back in acceptable time.
Both Volgoneft-104 and Volgoneft-38 are equipped with life boats and while coordinates are not precisely tracked they were approximately in the region of the accident.
Investigators did not charge captains of any oil tankers in relation to the Bulgaria disaster as of 15 July 2011; the only captains charged with failure to save are captains of Arbat (Yuri Tuchin) and Dunaiski 66 (Alexander Egorov).
Photo: Medvedev minuta molchaniya Bulgaria
First suspects detained over “Bulgaria” sinking. Video
Divers continue recovery operation at sunken ship.Video
Almost two dozen people from boat wreck still missing. Video
Search of Bulgaria wreck ends. Video
Bulgaria to be raised from Volga bed. Video.