‘Maybe now we will get some answers’: the filmmaker has challenged the official story of the Estonia ferry disaster World News

FOr a quarter of a century, the lack of strong evidence has prevented any real challenge as to how, on the night of September, more than 850 people died in Europe’s worst maritime disaster since the Second World War.

Now Heinrich Everson can get some. “We don’t speculate, and we don’t draw any conclusions,” the Swedish documentary filmmaker noted carefully. He said, ‘We are just putting the facts on the table. But now for 26 years, he has said that what we have found did not exist. Therefore it is quite large. ”

On September 27, 1994, at 6.30 pm, the ferry MS Estonia – the largest ship again the flag of the young Baltic Republic, and the symbol of independence found recently – crossed overnight on a route from Tallinn to Stockholm.

There were 803 passengers on board, most of them Swedish and 186 crew, most of whom were Estonian. The conditions were rough – 8 winds and waves up to 6 meters, but not uncommon for the Baltic Sea in autumn. All other scheduled ghats were at sea.

At around 1am, a heavy bang sound was heard – the cause, the accident report said, by a large wave. At about 1.15 am, the bow of the ship was raised, with its doors open. Water was poured; Within 15 minutes, Estonia had developed a 60-degree list.

A mangled mayd signal was sent. Later survivors described the edge of the sea water through the windows, roof and doors of the cabin. Estonia sank at 1.50pm, first in international waters, about 40 km to the south-southeast of the Finnish island of Utah.

Only 138 people were rescued, one of whom died in hospital. Most of the 852 that drowned, although one-third of the 300 that reached the outer deck died of hypothermia. Only 93 bodies were ever recovered, the last 18 months later.

A 1997 report of an accident investigation committee jointly formed by Estonia, Sweden and Finland concluded that the locks on the bow visor failed, allowing it to tear the door and uncover the ramp, which gave way. , Filled the deck of the car.

Candles on the 25th anniversary of the Ms Estonia disaster

Candles at a ceremony, in Tallinn, Estonia, on the 25th anniversary of the MS Estonia maritime disaster. Photograph: Ints Kalniņš / Reuters

“But the surviving witnesses – whose testimony was not actually on the report – were clear that it all started with that bang,” Everson said. “It was a blast that people felt, not just that they heard. And the ship went down so incredibly fast. ”

The groups representing the victims’ families have long called for a new investigation, saying the bang and the speed with which the ship sank was in line with the collision. Others, based on evidence Estonia carried military equipment during that September, pleaded guilty to an explosion – denying two 2005 inquiries.

Resisting calls to lift the wreckage and bury the dead, the Swedish government initially proposed covering the entire ship, about 80 meters in water, lying in a concrete shell, but eventually returned due to public outrage .

But in 1995, the governments of Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Denmark, Russia and Britain signed a treaty to declare the site a sea grave and prohibit any further exploration of the wreck, but two On year’s jail sentence. Stoking fears they may have something to hide.

“We could just report the various theories and gave up on that,” said Everson, who along with his colleague Bendik Mondal, led the team behind a new five-part Discovery Network documentary released this week, Estonia: The Find That Chance Everything.

“But we decided that the only responsible course of action was and look. We wanted to see if there was any evidence of a collision – a hole, for example. For 26 years, authorities have claimed that Estonia’s hull was intact, with no external damage seen. We decided to watch. ”

To avoid prosecution, the filmmakers hired a boat to fly Germany’s flag – the only Baltic Sea state that had not signed the 1995 treaty – and sent a camera attached to “a type of underwater drone” Everson said.

He said, “We looked outwards, from bow to stern, towards the port. We did not go inside. We did not see anything. We scanned the starboard – and along about a third of the way, everything suddenly went dark. It was a hole, larger than the film frame. I mean, a big hole: 4 meters high, 1.2 meters wide. ”

Mourners pay respect

Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid (second right), at a ceremony in Tallinn 25 years after Ms Estonia’s sinking. Photo: Raigo Pazula / AFP / Getty

The documentary reports the loss as a Norwegian marine technology professor, Jørgen Amdahl of Trondheim University – estimated to have been due to a collision of an object weighing 1,000 and 5,000 tons, traveling between two and four knots – who could play. A major part in the sinking ”.

The filmmaker’s findings, made public for the first time last week, have sparked diplomatic activity. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Finland and Sweden said they “agreed that the new information presented in the documentary would be verified”.

The Foreign Minister of Finland, Pakka Havisto, said the footage appeared to be real, saying: “It was not caused by an explosion. This would apparently create a hole-in-one to take a big hit towards the ship – but this is all we know. ”

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the country’s accident investigation board would investigate the evidence. He “did not lie” to Sweden about the fate of the ship, and would rule “nothing outside”, including new dives of any new investigation.

The Prime Minister of Estonia, Juri Ratus, said the documentary’s conclusion was “questions have to be answered”, adding that his country would “lead to respect for the wreck and to ensure transparency of the process”.

Margus Koorm is a former state prosecutor and head of a 2007 Estonian investigation who expressed doubts about the conclusion of the 1997 report that water entered through the bow gate. He said local media could blame the “collision with the submarine” – and suggested that a Swedish sub was in the area.

Now “tell us the truth” for Lennart Berglund, head of the Swedish Estonia Relatives Association, SEA, Stockholm. For 20 years, he said, “We have been demanding another investigation, citing experts who say that the ship could not sink rapidly, unless it was placed under the waterline. Its constant Rejected. Now we know. ”

As a Swedish citizen, Evertsen himself faces prosecution in Gothenburg district court for violating the protected site. He is surprised by the charge, which he denies. “We did not disturb the grave,” he said, “and what we discovered is clearly information that should be in the public domain.”

The response of the victims’ relatives has been overwhelming. He said, “I have to recharge my phone five times a day.” “They are calling from all over Europe, thanking us, many of them crying. Maybe now they say, we’ll get some real answers. ”


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