Wednesday 9/22/21
INVESTIGATION

New government in Tallinn wants to stick to Estonia ferry probe

Estonia, Sweden and Finland want to find out how a large and long-unknown hole in the hull, which footage by documentary film-makers revealed last year, was created.
Model of the ferry MS Estonia in the Estonian Maritime Museum.
Photo: Leif Jørgensen/W. Commons.
Model of the ferry MS Estonia in the Estonian Maritime Museum. Photo: Leif Jørgensen/W. Commons.

Even after the change of government in Tallinn, Estonia wants to stick to the investigation into the sinking of the Baltic Sea ferry Estonia, which occurred 26 years ago.

"The new Estonian government is determined to press ahead with the investigation into the Estonia wreck," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said after a phone call with her Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven on Friday evening.

She welcomed the fact that Sweden wants to make changes to the existing gravesite-at-sea designation to be able to have the ship's hull at the bottom of the Baltic Sea examined more closely.

The Estonia sank in 1994 with 989 people on board on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm off the southern Finnish coast.

With 852 dead, the sinking is considered the worst shipping disaster in Europe after World War II. Because many of the dead could not be recovered, the wreck is protected as a resting place and may not be visited, as stipulated by the gravesite-at-sea agreement.

The Swedish government had recently proposed a law to amend the gravesite agreement in order to allow the state accident commission to make a dive to the Estonia.

New findings

Together with its partner authorities in Estonia and Finland, the commission wants to find out how a large and long-unknown hole in the hull, which footage by documentary film-makers revealed last year, was created.

"This is a road that Estonia, Finland and Sweden must travel together. We agree that the investigation should be led by independent institutions," Kallas was quoted as saying in a statement from the State Chancellery in Tallinn.

The 43-year-old and her Cabinet took office on Tuesday.

Why the Estonia sank has not yet been clarified beyond doubt. According to the official investigation report from 1997, locks on the bow visor failed, causing it to tear free and leading to the sinking. Survivors and surviving relatives have long demanded that the investigation be reopened. A documentary film had revived the discussion in September.

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