Newly discovered hull damage in MS Estonia ferry carcass not to blame for 1994 disaster

By bne IntelliNews October 22, 2020

An Estonian ferry tragedy that killed 852 people in 1994 out in the Baltic sea was likely not caused by hull damage to the vessel that was first revealed in a documentary this year, experts concluded after a preliminary investigation of the video footage.

Estonia’s Margus Kurm, a former state prosecutor and, during 2005-2009, head of the government's investigative committee looking into the sinking of ferry MS Estonia in 1994, said in an interview that new scenes of the shipwreck show the ship most likely sank after a collision with a submarine.

However, a preliminary examination report published on the Estonian government website concluded that the newly discovered damage was too small to have sunk the ship as quickly as it did. The hole probably appeared as the sinking ship hit rocks on the sea bed, it added.

“The findings cannot change the conclusions” of the earlier investigation, said the new preliminary report, authored by four Estonian scientists and a senior adviser at the foreign affairs ministry.

After the sensational claim that the MS Estonia ferry had sunk due to a collision with a submarine back in 1994, the Estonian government said that Estonia had the capability to explore the wreck of the ferry with a sonar and an underwater robot, whereas for a diving operation an international tender needs to be held.

Interior Minister Mart Helme told reporters that the government had seen the new film about the MS Estonia ferry that caused a stir.

The Estonian government has committed to reinvestigate the tragedy and its cause. It has proposed to Finland and Sweden that the investigation be reopened to try to determine whether the damage contributed to the sinking.

The Estonian-registered vessel lies in shallow Finnish territorial waters. Most of those killed were Swedes.

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