Sinking of M/S Estonia: Painful Lessons Learned ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The memorial to the victims of the wreck of the M/S Estonia in Tallinn Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

It has been 17 years since the Estonia ferry sank on its voyage from Tallinn to Stockholm. According to one MP, the disaster brought the euphoria of the restoration of independence to an abrupt end but also provided a lesson in how to build the nation's capacity for responding to disasters.

"We regained freedom, stared building our state institutions, but the Estonia disaster made us face the fact that the responsibility for one's state required much greater exertions," MP Andres Anvelt told

Anvelt, an ex-police officer, said Estonian society started thinking differently about major disasters and how much ability to cope it required on the part of the community, taxpayers and the state.

Coping, according to Anvelt, meant both rescue response and ability to support the families of victims. "We didn't have that capacity at the time," he said.

Anvelt was involved in the investigation of the sinking in his role as a Central Criminal Police employee.

"We had to deal directly with an open wound for so many people, relatives and friends. It certainly left its mark in the people involved in the investigation, even though usually it's said investigators are not allowed to get personally involved."

A number of memorial events will be held this year to mark the 1994 sinking, which took the lives of 850, the majority of them Swedish and 285 of them Estonian.

Kristopher Rikken

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