PETROZAVODSK, Russia – 13 children and one adult have died after three tourist vessels were caught in a lake storm in Karelia, northwest Russia. Forty-seven children and four adults were in the boats.
The children who died in the Lake Syamozero disaster lived in a tent camp that had been set up illegally, Aleksandr Khudilaynen, head of the Republic of Karelia, said.
“Unfortunately, next to the stationary camp there was a spontaneous encampment, organized without permission. The boat trip set off from this camp, which was put up by a commercial entity,” he said.
According to Khudilaynen, the trip began “in extreme conditions, with winds of between 14 and 17 meters per second and waves between 1.5 and 2 meters high.”
Two boats and a raft took to the water. Both boats overturned and the raft was later washed ashore on an island, where the survivors spent “nearly 24 hours,” he said.
There were 26 people aboard the capsized boats, 12 of whom were rescued, Khudilaynen stressed.
Russian Emergencies Ministry plane will deliver the bodies of the children who died in Karelia to Moscow.
According to Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, “the plane will take off shortly.”
The families who lost children at Lake Syamozero will each receive compensation of 1 million rubles (around $15,000), Aleksandr Khudilainen, the head of the Republic of Karelia, said.
The fatalities on Lake Syamozero in Karelia could have been avoided if the boat trip had been properly registered, the press service for the North-Western Emergencies Ministry’s Regional Center told TASS.
“If the camp’s staff had warned the Emergencies Ministry of the boat trip, they would have been accompanied by rescuers or banned from boating due to weather conditions,” the press officer said.
The rescuers learned about the disaster from the locals after one of the survivors reached a village on the lakeshore.
“If the group had been registered and wouldn’t have establish communication in due time, the rescue workers would’ve started the search immediately. But here time was lost,” the press service said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is taking measures to locate and detained two people possibly involved in the Lake Syamozero tragedy.
“As it was previously reported, one suspect has already been detained. The steps are being taken to track down and arrest two other people, hiding from the investigation, as well as those who directly organized the children’s holiday,” Vladimir Markin, the Investigative Committee spokesman, said.