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Amurskaya: what's going on?

15 December 2012

Could some of the sailors from sunk freighter Amurskaya be alive on uninhabited Maliy Shantar island?

Found: two life jackets and emergency float from Amurskaya freight were found several days ago on Maliy Shantar island. Picture: Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova)

The relatives think so, but the official search involving planes, boats and divers was called off at the end of November with all nine presumed dead. 

Yet in a two day helicopter search - which only went ahead because of pressure from the anguished families - three life jackets and a float from the cargo ship were found on the shore of this Sea of Okhotsk island. 

Now the relatives want further searches with tracker dogs on the ground and helicopters in the air. 

'We are trying to resume the searches because we believe that the crew is alive,' says Marina Kizikova, 29 years old daughter of Amurskaya boat navigator  Alexander Stukalov, 53.

One can understand official scepticism. 

Even supposing some of the men made it to the shore (and one body was found on the wreck) when the Amurskaya and its cargo of gold sank six weeks ago, the bitter winter conditions with harsh cold and strong winds defy hopes of survival.

Yet these are hardy seamen and one can also understand why the relatives cling to hope. 

Siberia and the Russia Far East is full of stories about men surviving against the odds in atrocious conditions. And sometimes miracles happen. 

Surely there is now evidence for restarting a proper search on Maliy Shantar island?

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