Government proposes further investigation into Estonia ferry disaster

The MS Estonia.
The MS Estonia. Source: ERR

The Estonian government has agreed to turn to Finland and Sweden with a proposal to conduct further investigations into the MS Estonia wreck after a new documentary raised suspicions about the cause of its sinking.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Tuesday the government deems it necessary to conduct investigations into the sinking of the ferry after new information emerged in a documentary about a large hole in the ship's hull.

Ratas said: "We wish to proceed as fast as possible with the supplemental investigation to receive answers to all questions that have developed after this new information surfaced."

According to the prime minister, the seabed around the wreck and the shipwreck's position must be investigated before all in order to identify any hull damage, after which the cause and timing of the damages in relation to the ferry's sinking will be confirmed.

Ratas said it is critical that supplemental investigations would be independent, transparent and trustworthy. He also said it is important that organizations representing those close to the victims of the ferry disaster be included in the process.

Estonia, as the flag state of MS Estonia, is asking the governments of Finland and Sweden to name their project managers for the preparatory process of the supplemental study.

Until Estonia has named its project manager, the Government Office (Riigikantselei), along with assistance from many ministries, will design the study.

The former head of the government's investigative committee, which looked into the sinking in 2005-2009, claimed last week the ferry disaster came as a result of a collision with a submarine. Doubts over Sweden's involvement in the investigative process have also highlighted last week.

Engineers from Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) however doubt the theory that MS Estonia sank on collision with a submarine.

Sinking of the MS Estonia

The ferry sank on the night of September 28, 1994, sailing from Tallinn to Stockholm. The sinking is the largest maritime disaster in peacetime in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people from 17 countries, and second-largest peacetime maritime disaster, so far as European vessels go, since the Titanic.

The shipwreck was investigated by a joint committee formed by the governments of Estonia, Finland and Sweden between 1994 and 1997 and by a government commission headed by the Public Prosecutor's Office in 2005-2009. 

In 1995, Estonia, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement to protect the shipwreck, which prohibits diving to the wreck.

The disaster is commemorated by the "Broken Line" monument in central Tallinn, which replicates the vessel's bow. One arm of the monument points towards Sweden, the other towards Finland, the two nations, along with Estonia, who lost the most people.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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