Expert: New Estonia ferry findings do not prove official enquiry is wrong

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While the new preliminary investigations of the MS Estonian ferry wreck revealed that its vehicle deck ramp is completely open this does not mean the previous official explanation is wrong, said Kristjan Tabri, senior researcher at TalTech's Institute of Construction and Architecture.

On Thursday, After initial reports that no major findings had arisen from a new investigation into the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia ferry, diving work has revealed that the vessel's vehicle ramp now lies in a fully-open position. Previously been reported to have been in a closed position.

The official explanation for the cause of the disaster, which took place in the small hours of September 28, 1994 at a cost of 852 lives, is a sheared-off bow visor, which allowed seawater to enter the vehicle deck and compromise the vessel's buoyancy. The actual vehicle ramp as noted had previously been thought to have been in a raised position.

Speaking on "Vikerraadio" on Thursday, Tabri said the ramp was attached to the vessel with eight eyelets and the final report of the investigation stated that only two eyelets remained intact.

"When the ship is upside down, the ramp, with its weight, which could be estimated at 10-15 tonnes, hangs on these two eyelets. I would say that the fundamental question is whether this ramp is completely off there or whether it is still there," the researcher said. He said an amateur diver would not be able remove it.

He believes there are two potential versions of what happened: whether the ramp has come loose due to wear or has been moved. Tabri said the answers will be revealed by close examinations.

At present, it is too early to draw conclusions from the initial findings.

PPA cannot assess if anyone has dived into the wreck in recent years

Rene Hartõkainen, border officer of the Maritime Security Group of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), told ERR the MS Estonia wreck is not in Estonian waters and the agency only has data on movements in Estonian waters.

"The wreck of Estonia is located in Finnish waters and the movement of ships there is controlled by the Finnish Border Guard. We do not have any information about what kind of overview these ships have," he added.

All the latest data, including a documentary made in 2019, show that the ramp was in front of the ship before. However, only the Finnish Border Guard can detect the movement of ships at the wreck.

Hartõkainen said radars in Estonia show when a ship enters the Estonian zone, but small boats may not be picked up by the radar.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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