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Sweden Clearing Legal Path to Reexamine Estonia Wreck Site

An inflatable life raft from sunken RoPax ferry Estonia (Photo: Accident Investigation Board Finland)

A new examination of the wreck of the ferry Estonia, which sank in the Baltic in 1994 with the loss of 852 lives, will be possible from the summer when a change to Swedish law comes into force, news agency TT reported on Thursday.

The official investigation concluded in 1997 that the roll-on, roll-off ferry's bow shield had failed, damaging the bow ramp and flooding the car deck.

But a recent television documentary renewed speculation about the cause of the disaster and prompted the government to accept a new investigation of the wreck was needed.

Current law protects the grave site.

"What we are thinking of is making it possible for the Accident Investigation Authority to take the measures it requires to conduct an examination," Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg told TT.

"It won't be divers. They will use other technical solutions and they will conduct these examinations in the most sensitive way possible in order to respect the sanctity of the grave site."

TT said the government expected changes to the law to be ready by summer.

The Estonia set out from Tallinn to Stockholm on the night of Sept. 28, 1994, in a storm.

After the bow shield failed, the ferry rapidly filled with water, trapping most of the passengers and crew inside.

Over the years, a number of theories have emerged about the sinking that reject the official explanation, including a collision with a submarine and an explosion inside the ship.

The Discovery Network documentary included underwater video images from the wreck site showing two previously unknown holes on the starboard side of the hull.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Jan 14, 2021



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