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New Report on 1994 Ferry Disaster: No Collision, No Explosion

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — There is no evidence that a collision or explosion caused the sinking of a ferry in the Baltic Sea in 1994 in one of Europe’s deadliest peacetime maritime disasters, officials said on Monday. accident investigation boards of Estonia, Finland and Sweden.

“There is no indication of a collision with a vessel or floating object nor any indication of an explosion in the bow area,” according to the preliminary report. The new report did not provide any new evidence contradicting the results of the official investigation into the accident in 1997.

The M/S Estonia sank in rough seas on September 28, 1994, killing 852 people, mostly Swedes and Estonians. The ferry was en route from the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to Stockholm when it sank around 30 minutes after an initial distress call. Only 137 people on board survived.

The ship’s fate has sparked several conspiracy theories, including that it may have collided with a submarine or that it was carrying sensitive military cargo.

The 1997 official joint investigation by Estonia, Finland and Sweden concluded that the ferry sank when its forward door locks failed during a storm. This separated the forward door from the ship, opening the ramp to the car deck and causing extensive deck flooding.

The latest probe was launched after a 2020 TV documentary included video footage from the wreck site showing a hole in the hull measuring 4 meters (13ft) on the starboard side. Officials said the wreckage had a hole about 22 meters (72ft) long and 4 meters (13ft) high.

The hole and other damage became more visible because the wreckage “twisted 13 degrees” due to changes in the seabed, said Jonas Bäckstrand, deputy head of Sweden’s Marine Investigation Authority. accidents. The commission had used underwater images and computerized images.

“It appears to have been damaged by the impact when it hit the seabed,” Bäckstrand said during the presentation of the interim preliminary assessment report in Tallinn, Estonia.

“We’re not done yet,” he said, adding that this was just a preliminary finding and further investigation was planned.

A leading theory was that the Estonia was carrying military equipment and that there had been some sort of explosion. The Swedish Armed Forces said they used the ferry to transport only electronic-type equipment, but not on the fateful night.

The wreck lies on the seabed 80 meters (265 feet) below the surface in international waters off a Finnish island and is considered a graveyard, giving the area protection under the law.

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