Kallas: We take official state MS Estonia investigation very seriously

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Work-in-progress at last summer's MS Estonia wreck dive. Source: Madis Veltman, Postimees

The state takes its new investigation into the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia particularly seriously, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Thursday. Kallas' remarks followed news of a rival, private sector investigation, part-funded by daily Postimees.

Speaking at the regular Thursday government press conference and reported by ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Kallas said: "The state has taken this investigation very seriously since the new circumstances came to light."

"The previous government had already decided to start the investigation. In February, we also allocated €3 million towards it, in addition to the Swedish government's three million," Kallas continued.

The new circumstances Kallas' referred to came to light after a 2020 documentary which aired on Swedish TV revealed several, substantial holes in the hull of the MS Estonia wreck, prompting speculation on the official explanation – a sheared-off bow visor, which allowed water to enter the vehicle decks in heavy seas.

The official investigation's preliminary dives took place in summer, and also revealed that the main vehicle ramp, previously thought to be in a "closed" position, or at least a part-closed one, was in fact lying open.

The investigation involving Postimees will be headed up by Margus Kurm, who is a former state prosecutor who also led an earlier, official investigation in the 2000s.

A former Reform MP, Jaanus Rahumägi, said equipment used in summer's preliminary dive was not up to the task.

Rahumägi, a security expert, reiterated his criticisms in more philosophical terms on his social media account Friday morning.

He wrote: "A year ago an opportunity arose to introduce Estonia to the world as an independent country, one which can use state-of-the-art science and tech elegantly, to present internationally fresh research on the MS Estonia's demise. To shed professional light on the mysteries and refute, or scientifically validate, rumors. None of this happened. More questions and doubts came [instead]. Public expectations were rolled over, and black turned into white."

Rahumägi also hit out at an assumption on the part of politicians and journalists, naming public broadcaster ERR in particular, that both common sense and a conscience automatically accompany appointment to political office.

The official investigation continues next year. The required work would generally be conducted during the summer months.

The MS Estonia sank in the small hours of September 28, 1994, while en route 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 ever, so far as European vessels go, after the Titanic.

The wreck lies in over 100 meters of water, south of Finland's Turku archipelago and in international waters.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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