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Wreck of AMURSKAYA Found

Yesterday, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry announced that M/V AMURSKAYA had indeed been located about 80 feet under water near where the EPIRB attached to AMURSKAYA had activated on October 28 near the Shantar Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. Please click here to read details in our original post.

Poor weather conditions hampered earlier search efforts, but recently the weather cleared enough that divers have been able to swim to the wreck and confirm it is AMURSKAYA with her roughly 700 tonnes of gold ore on board. Her maximum capacity is listed at 611 tonnes, so she was overloaded. It's thought that the stormy seas that day displaced cargo as AMURSKAYA rolled side to side, eventually causing her to capsize and sink. There had been no mayday from the crew, only the EBIRP activating when it hit the water, possibly just as she sank.

The divers noted that a ladder was down, the door open to the deck below the bridge was open, and a life raft was missing from its storage location, indicating that the crew may have tried to evacuate. A torn, partially inflated life raft was found floating in the area, as well. It contained some sand and pebbles, but no people. Searchers are still exploring the coastline in case any survivors somehow made it to shore.

According to reports, Alexander Shiltsin, the director of the Nikolayevsk-on-Amur seaport in Kiran from which AMURSKAYA sailed and who is also apparently the owner of AMURSKAYA, has been charged with safety and navigation rule violations resulting in the death of two or more people. He is under investigation for accusations of personally clearing and instructing the ship to sail in spite of storm conditions, being overloaded, and not being suited to carry that type of cargo. These are criminal charges which carry up to seven years in prison.

A technical and forensic investigation is also being carried out by Russian authorities in order to determine exactly what happened at sea to cause the sinking.

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