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September 29, 1994 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-29

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 29, 1994 - 5

F
GLL FALL DOWN

Disaster on ferry to Estonia
leaves 820 dead or missing

The Washington Post
TURKU, Finland - It was after
midnight, an ink-black night on the
Baltic, and a violent storm was churn-
ing the sea. Lars Lamke was asleep in
his berth aboard the huge ferry Estonia,
homeward bound to Stockholm. Sud-
denly he was startled awake. The ferry
was leaning to the port side, whipped
by 55-mph winds and 18-foot waves.
Lamke thought nothing of it.
"Seasickness doesn't trouble me,
and I went back to sleep," said Lamke,
63, a Swedish doctor with his
profession's calm manner. "But I real-
ized something was wrong when all
my luggage started rushing down."
Lamke was one of the lucky ones,
oneof 140 survivors ofthe worstpeace-
time accident on the Baltic and one of
the worst maritime disasters ofall time.
About 820 passengers and crew
members-mostly Swedes and Esto-
nians-on the sunken ferry were dead
or missing and presumed drowned yes-
terday night. They perished despite a
feverish search that included rescue
divers, 20 helicopters, at least 10 sur-
face craft and an airplane. Although the
search went on most of the day, no
survivors were recovered after
midafternoon.
The air-rescue effort continued un-
til dusk, with helicopter pilots, ships
and divers combing the heaving wa-
ters. Some survivors were found in the
morning and early afternoon, huddled
in bright-orange lifeboats or clinging
to them amid the whitecaps. The air
search was to resume Thursday at dawn,
F VWI
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Trevor Hart.
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'There is no comparison I can think of.'
Carl Bildt
Swedish prime minister

but rescue workers held out scant hope
that any more might be found alive.
There were 776 passengers and 188
crew on board the Estonia.
While the 515-foot, 15,600-ton ship
was jointly owned by a Swedish com-
pany and the Estonian government,
most of the crew was Estonian.
The passengers included 552
Swedes, 163 Estonians, 29 Lithuanians
and smaller numbers of Finns, Ger-
mans, Norwegians, Britons, Dutch,
Danes, Spaniards, Latvians and Ukrai-
nians.
Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt
rushed to the emergency rescue center
in this port city along with his counter-
parts from Finland, Esko Aho, and
Estonia, Mart Laar. Bildt, who declared
a period of national mourning, called
the sinking of the Estonia a tragedy
with few antecedents. "We haven't been
at war in a very long time - there is no
comparison I can think of," he said.
The Estonia, a German-built ferry
that had been plying the waters of the
Baltic since 1980, capsized 20 nautical
miles off a Finnish coastal island while
en route from Tallinn, the Estonian
capital, to the Swedish capital,
Stockholm. Estonia, Finland and Swe-
den set up a joint panel of inquiry to
investigate the cause.
The accounts of some survivors set

off speculation that a faulty ramp door
had admitted the swelling sea onto the
Estonia'svehicledeck, which may have
held a capacity load of more than 30
trucks and perhaps 400 to 500 cars. The
water could have caused one or more of
the vehicles to shift, setting off a chain
reaction of trucks and cars smashing
into each other like dominoes.
The Swedish news agency TT re-
ported that two Swedish inspectors had
found the seals on the ferry's loading
ramp "not in satisfactory condition" a
day before the accident. But one of the
inspectors, Ake Sjoblom, told Swedish
television yesterday, "We saw nothing
that gave us ahint that something would
go wrong."
The Estonia was operated by the
Estline Shipping Co., owned half by
the Estonian government and half by
the Swedish tanker firm Nordstrom &
Thulin AB. A spokesman for the Swed-
ish firm, Andres Berg, told Britain's
Sky Television he was mystified by the
accident, which he said could not have
been caused by the weather alone.
Survivors and Finnish coast-guard
officers said the disaster struck with
lightning speed, probably trapping hun-
dreds in their cabins below deck virtu-
ally without warning as the ferry turned
over and, minutes later, slipped be-
neath the crashing waves.

CHRIS WOLF/Daity
The Nichols Arboretum stands in solitude as students avoid the wet and windy weather.
'Secretary general of ruling
party assassinated in Mexico

The Washington Post
MEXICO CITY - The secretary
*eneral of Mexico's ruling Institu-
tional Revolutionary Party was assas-
sinated by a lone gunman yesterday
in the heart of ,the capital, dealing
another blow to the country's politi-
cal stability.
Police and party officials said Jose
Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the party's
second-ranking official, had just
stepped into his car after a breakfast
C eeting with newly elected congress-
en when he was mortally wounded.
Witnesses said the gunman drew a
submachine gun from a rolled-up
newspaper and fired through the car
window, striking Ruiz once in the
neck before the weapon jammed.
A security guard tackled the gun-
man, later identified by the federal
attorney general's office as Joel Hec-
or Resendiz, a native of the central
tate of Guerrero, where Ruiz served
as governor from 1987 to 1993. A
government official familiar with the
investigation said it appeared
Resendiz was a hired gunman, but he
President
Jreatens
lame-duck
The Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON - In a hardball
play aimed at preserving his last hope
r a major legislative victory this
Tall, PresidentClinton threatened yes-
terday to call the Senate back for a
rare "lame-duck" session after the
congressional elections if it fails by
then to vote cn a far-reaching accord
that would reduce many barriers to

declined to elaborate.
Ruiz's death added a new element
of confusion to an already compli-
cated political picture here following
the March 21 assassination of the
ruling party's presidential candidate,
Luis Donaldo Colosio. Four suspects
remain in custody in that case as in-
vestigators gather evidence on the
possibility of a conspiracy.
The party's replacement candi-
date, Ernesto Zedillo, easily won the
presidential election last month, with
exit polls indicating a clear voter pref-
erence for stability over change. The
party, known by its Spanish initials as
the PRI, has held Mexico's presi-
dency for 65 unbroken years.
Earlier this year Mexico was
rattled by a peasant uprising in the
southern state of Chiapas, and less
than 18 months ago gunmen killed a

Roman Catholic cardinal during a
drug-related shootout in the central
city of Guadalajara.
Mexicans said after last month's
election that they were looking for-
ward to a period of recovery and po-
litical stability, an attitude reflected
by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari
as recently as last week during a na-
tionwide tour.
Zedillo has pledged to continue
Salinas's program of far-reaching re-
forms, including ending the tradition-
ally close ties between the PRI and
government.
Ruiz was a key figure in maintain-
ing momentum for reform; just last
week he was named PRI majority
leader in the lower house of Con-
gress, where he was to undertake the
difficult task of putting the body on an
independent footing.

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