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Estonia proposes re-examining wreck of ferry sunk in 1994

FILE PHOTO: Candles are seen next to the names of victims during a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of a maritime disaster when MS Estonia, carrying 803 passengers and 186 crew, sank in the Baltic Sea, in Tallinn, Estonia September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Estonia’s government is to propose to Finland and Sweden renewing the investigation into the 1994 sinking of the ferry Estonia in which 852 lives were lost, Europe’s worst peacetime maritime disaster since the Titanic sunk in 1912.

The official investigation in 1997 concluded that the bow ramp of the ferry had failed during a storm, flooding the car deck and causing the vessel to roll over and sink.

A Discovery Network documentary about the disaster aired in September included new underwater video images from the wreck site, showing previously undisclosed damage to the starboard side of the ferry.

The proposed investigation would try to determine whether the damage contributed to the sinking, Estonia’s government said.

“We want to move forward with further investigation as soon as possible, to answer any questions arising from the new information,” Estonia Prime Minister Juri Ratas said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is important that further investigations are independent, transparent and credible.”

The investigation would try to determine how and when the hull damage appeared and examine the sea bed around the wreck.

The roll-on roll-off ferry, carrying 803 passengers and 186 crew, sank on a stormy Baltic Sea shortly after midnight on Sept. 28, 1994.

The Estonian-registered vessel lies in shallow Finnish territorial waters. Most of the 852 people killed were Swedish nationals.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Ed Osmond

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