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Mourners Visit Shipwreck Scene on Anniversary of Disaster

August 31, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Relatives of the 398 people who died when the Admiral Nakhimov liner sank in the Black Sea last year went to the scene of the disaster to mourn their loved ones, a newspaper reported Monday.

A float marks the spot where the cruise ship, carrying 1,234 passengers and crew, went down on Aug. 31, 1986, after colliding with the 50,000-ton freighter Pyotr Vasyev.

Emergency crews rescued 836 people from the waters off Novorossiysk. Divers brought up 257 bodies, and 141 victims were never found.

The accident occurred at 11:20 p.m., when many passengers had already gone to bed. Soviet media reports after the accident said many victims were trapped in their rooms, and that divers were not able to retrieve those bodies.

The report in the government newspaper Izvestia said relatives and friends of the victims, former crew members, journalists and Black Sea fleet authorities recently set sail on a special memorial trip to the scene of the sinking.

Mourners dropped flowers into the sea over the waters where the wreckage lies 155 feet below, Izvestia said. It did not say when the memorial voyage was made.

Izvestia gave no information about the number of deaths, although it referred to the sinking as a tragedy that affected millions of people.

The captains of both the cruise liner and the freighter were sentenced in March to 15 years in prison for criminal negligence in the sinking.

In handing down the sentences, the Soviet Supreme Court tribunal in Odessa said it took into consideration ″the special enormity of the crime and the hard consequences of the tragedy,″ the Tass news agency reported then.

The news agency had reported before the trial that Viktor Tkachenko, captain of the Pyotr Vasyev, was warned by marine safety workers in Novorossiysk that his freighter was on a collision course with the Admiral Nakhimov, but failed to take evasive measures.

The cruise ship’s captain, Vadim Markov, left the bridge at a crucial moment and turned the helm over to his mate.

Izvestia said a special memorial has been erected on the shore six miles from the shipwreck site, which is marked by a float to keep ships from passing too close and disturbing the wreckage below.

The newspaper focused on problems with 600 tons of fuel that went down with the cruise liner. Divers have managed to siphon out about 200 tons, but some of the tanks are inaccessible and continue to pose a potential pollution hazard, Izvestia said.

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