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Divers to Return to Site of Ferry That 852 People Died On

The M/S Estonia went down in 1994
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 8, 2021 2:52 PM CDT
Divers to Return to Site of Ferry That 852 People Died On
In this Nov. 19, 1994 file photo, the bow door of the sunken passenger ferry M/S Estonia is lifted up from the bottom of the sea, off Uto Island, in the Baltic Sea, near Finland.   (Jaakko Aiikainen/Lehtikuva via AP, File)

(Newser) – A privately-funded expedition, commissioned by relatives of the victims of the M/S Estonia ferry that sank in the Baltic Sea nearly 27 years ago, will dive into the vessel’s wreckage this month. It's the latest attempt to gain more insight into one of Europe’s worst peacetime maritime disasters, reports the AP. The goal of the two-week dive, organized by the Estonia-based Mare Liberum fund and scheduled for late September, “is to find answers to questions” that official joint and separate investigations by Estonia, Finland, and Sweden have failed to provide "regarding the reason why Estonia perished,” the fund said in a statement Wednesday.

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The M/S Estonia ferry, which was traveling from the Estonian capital Tallinn to Stockholm in Sweden, sank in heavy seas on Sept. 28, 1994, killing 852 people, most of them Swedes and Estonians. Only 138 passengers survived. The wreck of the M/S Estonia lies on the seabed 264 feet below the surface in international waters near the Finnish island of Uto. The wreck is considered a graveyard, which gives the area protection under the law.

It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of stance the governments of Estonia, Finland, and Sweden would take about the private expedition, which rivals an official dive by Estonian and Swedish authorities that is expected in 2022. The 1997 official joint investigation by Estonia, Finland, and Sweden concluded that the ferry sank as its bow door locks failed in a storm. That separated the bow door from the vessel, causing extensive flooding of the decks that eventually sank the vessel in just 20 minutes. (Read more shipwreck stories.)

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