MS Estonia resting place may have been violated by diving ship

MS Estonia memorial in Tallinn.
MS Estonia memorial in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The resting place of the MS Estonia ferry, which sank in September 1994, taking the lives of 852 people, may have been violated, Baltic News Service reports.

The wreck of the MS Estonia lies in of international waters in the Baltic about 22 nautical miles (41 km) from Utö island, Finland, and is a protected site. However, according to BNS, Finland's Border Guard and Coast Guard said a vessel sailing under the German flag visited the site on Monday afternoon.

Despite being approached by a Finnish coast guard vessel and asked not to disturb the site, the vessel, named as the Fritz Reuter, dispatched a diving robot into the sea.

The robot was thought to have been used to illegally explore the wreck, and remained submerged for several hours before being brought back on to the Fritz Reuter, BNS reports.

Under international law, disturbing the site is punishable either by a fine or a one-year jail sentence. However, not all countries have signed up to the treaty forbidding visiting the wreck. While the site is in international waters, it lies within Finland's economic area.

Saturday, Sept. 28 marks the 25th anniversary of the MS Estonia's sinking, which happened during stormy conditions in the small hours of that date. Just 137 people survived the sinking.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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