Barge collision kills 11, including local politician, on Volga River

A small river cruise catamaran collided with a barge on the Volga River in Volgograd, Russia on Monday June 11th, causing 11 deaths and three injuries. Russian authorities have blamed operator error and possibly alcohol as factors in the accident.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said that at least 16 people were on the catamaran at the time of the collision. Russian state news agency TASS reported that the vessel was believed to be unlicensed and carrying more passengers than it was designed to accommodate.

The Investigative Committee said on June 12th that the operator of the catamaran “completely neglected both light and sound warning signals from the barge” and was “under the influence of alcohol.” The head of Volgograd’s regional medical examiner told TASS that the captain of the catamaran was drunk, with a blood alcohol level of 2.17 per mille, considerably higher than the limit for driving in most countries.

UK media reported that the captain and owner of the catamaran was a former local politician named Dmitry Khakhalev, and that the outing was a celebration for a member of the local traffic police. Khakhalev died in the accident. (Russian)

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