Divers Begin Investigation of Estonia Wreck

Tuesday, August 22, 2000
Brushing aside complaints from Nordic states that declared it a burial site, U.S.-led divers last week began investigating the wreck of the ferry Estonia, which sank in the Baltic in 1994 with the loss of 852 lives. Finnish and Swedish authorities failed to stop the controversial expedition led by U.S. businessman Gregg Bemis, who wants to check reports the Estonia might have been damaged by a bomb blast before it sank in a storm while en route from Tallinn to Stockholm.

Finnish investigators insist that a faulty bow door rather than a bomb caused the ferry to sink in Europe's worst maritime disaster since World War Two.

The 15,600-ton passenger and car ferry lies on its side at a depth of 180-270 ft. about 60 miles off the southwest coast of Finland. Bemis's team of American and German divers are cleared to dive at the site because it lies in international waters. Bemis, who believes there is a hole in the ship's hull, has said the expedition's goal is to urge the Swedish government to launch a new inquiry into the causes of the accident.

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