VOLGOGRAD, Russia - Most of the 16 people celebrating a colleague’s birthday party on a late-night catamaran ride along the Volga River in Russia’s Volgograd city, died on Tuesday after their vessel struck a barge.
The horrific incident is said to have occurred a mile away from where England is due to play Tunisia in the World Cup on Monday, and saw 11 people, including six women, a teenage girl and four men being killed in the crash.
Reports noted that the group had gathered on the late night birthday party cruise boat called the Elan-12 to celebrate their colleague’s 43rd birthday.
However, their unlicensed boat struck a barge Kapital Vecherkin in the Volga river and sunk moments after the collision.
Rescue teams that arrived at the spot immediately after the crash managed to rescue five people from the boat.
The man celebrating his birthday, Vitaly Negrash was said to be a local policeman and he didn’t survive the crash.
Further, the captain and owner of the catamaran, Dmitry Khakhalev, who is a controversial former local politician, was also among the dead.
On Tuesday, divers pulled six bodies from the sunken boat, and four more were found later.
The dead included local traffic policemen and members of their families.
Further, the stricken vessel was also raised from the bottom of the river and hauled to shore.
Authorities in the country said that no foreigners were involved in the horrific accident which took place some 800 feet off the city’s main river embankment.
Local reports raised safety concerns as the catamaran involved in the crash was said to have had 16 people onboard and was overcrowded.
Further, there were no lights onboard and life jackets were reportedly insufficient.
Reports also noted that the vessel was not registered and had no licence to carry passengers.
Police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.