On Sunday, officials announced that at least 13 children had been killed after several tour boats were caught in a storm out on Lake Syamozero in Northern Russia’s Karelia region. One adult is also feared dead after the storm, a camp instructor and Washington Post have said that investigators report criminal negligence from the camp could be at fault.
A spokesman for Russia’s main state investigative agency, Vladimir Markin, advised several of the boats were caught in the storm in Syamozero, located about 75 miles east of the nation’s border with Finland. In total, there were 47 children and four adult instructors out on the lake, having come from Moscow on vacation at a summer camp at Lake Syamozero. There were three boats out on the lake and all of them capsized, plunging the children and instructors into the punishing waters.
As of late Sunday evening, reports are that rescuers are still in the process of recovering bodies from the lake. Five of the rescued children in Russia have been hospitalized with hypothermia and wounds associated with the trauma.
Markin also said that one instructor from the camp had been arrested by Russia’s investigative agency SledKom, as part of an official probe, for allegedly violating safety rules and reportedly organizing the boating trip in the first place. Two other camp instructors are being sought after evading the authorities. Regional Karelia lawmaker Alexei Gavrilov said that there had been repeated warnings about an advancing Atlantic cyclone broadcasted and boating on the lake, a favorite holiday tourist destination in the area, was advised against.
Vladimir Kucherenko, the director of a local tourist company, made several televised remarks regarding the death of the 13 children, saying that most of them had apparently died due to being exposed to the cold temperatures in the water for too long. Water temperatures in the lake were reported to be about 46 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit [7 to 10 degrees Celsius) and it is also suspected that strong winds could have driven the boats across the lake, which he said would make it hard for the children in the frigid waters to get to the shore. Though the waters are not exceptionally deep, the winds and temperature kept even experienced fishermen off the lake in Russia this weekend.
“I would like to look the person who allowed them to go boating in the eye. It was suicidal.”
The bodies of the children will be flown back to Moscow by a plane provided by the Emergencies Ministry of Russia. The children who managed to survive were said to have been wearing life vests, while it has been said that those children who were killed had not been wearing safety vests. Negligence and overlooking safety regulations definitely had a part to play in the capsizing of the boats, resulting in the deaths of the 13 children and one adult instructor.
According to UPI, the authorities first became aware of the boating accident when a 12-year-old girl, who had been aboard one of the boats, washed ashore. Once the girl regained consciousness, she walked along the coastline to the nearby village of Kudama.
A vast array of Russian officials have been publicly demanding justice for the 13 children killed and have placed the blame with the summer camp operators for not paying proper attention to the safety of the children. Markin has expressed his condolences to the families of the children who were killed.
“Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to bring back the children. I sympathize with all the parents and those close to the children, who died because of the negligence and stupidity of the adults, with whom they had entrusted what was dearest to them: the lives and health of their children.”
Officials in Russia have promised to complete safety checks and reviews. The head of the Karelia region has also declared that all the companies in the area that provide boat trips would be reviewed, as well. Officials also promised to do a public review of safety at all the local summer camps for children.
Monday will be a day of mourning in the Republic of Karelia in Russia.
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