Sweden remembers victims of Estonia disaster

Catastrophic sinking of MS Estonia claimed lives of 501 Swedes

Two decades after the catastrophic sinking of MS Estonia, which claimed the lives of 852 people, including 501 Swedes, there are calls for a new inquiry into the tragedy. Questions remain unanswered about the cause of the tragedy.

On its way from Tallinn to Stockholm the cruise ferry sank in the early hours of the morning of 28 September 1994. Only 137 people managed to survive. Powerful waves ripped the 54-tonne bow visor off the front of the ship and water flooded into the car decks.

Initially passengers heard a loud bang, immediately after midnight, which some survivors said sounded like an explosion. It was later found that the bow visor had been poorly welded and inadequately maintained. The officers on the bridge could not see the bow and didn’t react until it was too late. An investigation also blamed human error, as the ship had been travelling too fast. Water flowed in at a rate of 20 tonnes a second and it sank within 40 minutes.

Controversially, the Swedish government decided not to raise the ship, citing the cost and respect for the dead. The wreck was covered with thousands of tonnes of gravel and dives to the vessel remain illegal. But many families who lost loved ones are still hopeful there will be a fresh inquiry and that the ship will one day be raised.

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