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Accidents, Losses, Threats

  • July 12th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

volga-boat-bulgaria.jpegMore than 100 are confirmed dead in the sinking of a river cruiser on the  Volga; twelve are dead following an explosion at a naval base in Cyprus, and NATO continues to apply pressure in Libya, as Muamar al-Gaddafi vows retaliation against Europe.


Rescuers battling strong currents in the Volga River near Kazan, downstream from Novgorod and deep in the heart of Russia, say as many as 120 people may have died when the cruise boat Bulgaria went down.

The long two-decker, with top hamper extending almost its full length, reportedly listed and capsized, sinking in a few minutes, after it got into some rough and choppy conditons on the river, on Sunday (10.7.11).

Some of the rescue workers said they had found the bodies of 30 or 40 children, most of whom had been caught in a play room.

Russian authorities spoke angrily of as many as 208 people being allowed on board a ship licensed for 140, and of investigating reports of two vessels sailing past the stricken craft without helping.

They have had less comment on the fact of a shallow-draught  vessel built 57 years ago plying long routes with passengers on board; a warning for would-be participants in the boom in European river cruises at this time, to pick their shipping line, ship, and country of registration of the vessel, very choosily


A huge bang in the early hours of  Monday morning,  about 70 kilometres from Nicosia, killed twelve and caused extensive damage to the main power station on Cyprus, as well as hundreds of homes, shops and restaurants in villages around the naval base where it happened.

Early  reports said a dump of munitions, believed to have been seized from a ship as supplies for a terrorist operation, had gone up, showering the area with shrapnel.

The Cyprus Mail (12.7.11) said the Greek Cypriot Chief of Navy and the base commander were among the twelve killed and 60 hurt.

That was the result, it said, “of what appears to be criminal negligence on behalf of officials who left containers full of munitions exposed to the elements for more than two years.”

Extensive power cuts are expected to go on for more than a year before the electricity generating plant can be fully restored.


gaddafi-2011.jpgThe NATO command operating over Libya has continued with intensive airstrikes and sea patrols, putting aside a threat by Muammar al-Gaddafi at the start of this month, that he would attack Europe if the  bombings did not stop

A communique from the alliance on Monday said that during Saturday’s operations alone, there’d been 139 sorties, with “key hits” including three armed vehicles, eight artillery pieces, a tank, eight other military vehicles, nine rocket launchers of various types and radar facilities.

The announcement of revenge attacks on Europe recalled similar threats made by Saddam Hussein in Iraq, in the lead-up to the first Gulf war in 1990.

Then, extensive precautions saw armed patrols around embassies in  Europe and schools for expatriate children, warnings broadcast at railway stations, and for a time, a virtual emptying of air terminals as people stayed away from travel.

There is much less overt reaction today, the seriousness of the threat being more of a known commodity, and also, after actual terror attacks this last decade, there is a routine and ongoing level of preparedness, rather high in any event.


Cyprus Mail, Nicosia, “’Criminal errors’ in navy base blast”, 12.7.11., (12.7.11).

Famagusta Gazette, Famagusta, “The morning after”, 12.7.11., (12.7.11).

Michael Jansen, “Greek Cypriot naval base explosion leaves 12 dead”,  Irish Times, Dublin, 11.7.11., (12.7.11).

Natalia Kolesnikova, “Russia mourns its worst river disaster”, AFP, Paris, 11.7.11.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Brussels,  “Operational Media Update for 10 July 2011: NATO and Libya … Air Operations”, 11.7.11.