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Government to grant a further €1.2 million towards MS Estonia wreck investigation

MS Estonia's bow ramp arrives in Paldiski on July 25, 2023.
MS Estonia's bow ramp arrives in Paldiski on July 25, 2023. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Safety Investigation Bureau (OJK) is to receive the funding coming from the government reserve, and will be tasked with providing a comprehensive answer to the causes of the Estonia's demise, by the summer of 2025. The 30th anniversary of the sinking will be marked later this year.

OJK chief Märt Ots said: "In 2021, the government allocated €3 million towards the investigation of the wreck. As of the end of 2023, approximately €2.3 million of that amount had been spent. In accordance with the law, we returned the remainder, or €0.7 million, to the state."

This month "The Minister of Finance allocated €1.2 million from the government's reserve, for further investigation into the wreck site. Since the team returned €0.7 million to the state at the end of the last budgeting period (2021-2023), essentially the government has now allocated an extra €0.5 million," Ots went on.

The OJK hopes to model the wreckage of the bow visor, central to the cause of the disaster according to the official report, in order to resolve the reasons for the rapid sinking of the ferry, nearly 30 years ago.

"There are still many unanswered questions on how such a large vessels sank in 30 minutes," Ots went on.

Ots said he hopes that the final report on the sinking will be completed during the summer of next year.

The survey work is a joint Estonian-Swedish effort, with Estonia putting up €3.5 million and Sweden €4.7 million. A 2020 Swedish TV documentary sparked new interest in the case, after illicitly-obtained underwater footage revealed previously unknown ruptures in the ferry's hull.

Additionally, technical capabilities have moved on substantially since the original investigation took place.

The MS Estonia sank in the small hours of September 28, 1994, in heavy seas off the Turku archipelago, with the loss of 852 lives. The original official investigation stated that a bow visor was compromised after being sheared off in heavy seas, allowing water to rapidly inundate the ferry's vehicle deck.

An official dive last summer (see cover image), utilizing dive robots, concluded that there was nothing to refute the original explanation of the sinking.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kaur Rasmus Tammelaan

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