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Dramatic pictures show rescue from fire and 'explosion' on Lake Baikal tourist boat 

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 August 2015

Raging flames engulf vessel in ten minutes, but 122 passengers escape safely in life rafts after 'pandemonium'.

All those on board - including foreigners - escaped the inferno into life rafts or plucked to safety by a passing yacht called Princess. Picture: Ilya Filippenko

Fire raged through a tourist vessel on Lake Baikal, one of Russia's main attractions, but all those on board - including foreigners - escaped the inferno into life rafts or plucked to safety by a passing yacht called Princess. 

Passengers on the stricken vessel said the smell of smoke was rapidly followed by an explosion on the aft of the Barguzin 2 - built in 1991 - which was sailing near Peschanka. Flames spread quickly from the stern of the boat.

Irkutsk resident  Ilya Filippenko, on board the tourist boat, told Baikal-Daily: 'We sailed from Peschanaya Bay at about 4 pm on the ship 'Barguzin 2'. We were on the aft deck, then caught the smell of burning. 

Ship burned on Baikal


Ship burned on Baikal


Ship burned on Baikal


Ship burned on Baikal

The back deck exploded and all the rest caught fire immediately. We closed the door that leads to the aft deck, and ran into the lounge, told the rest of the passengers and everyone started putting on life jackets and running out to the forward deck. Pictures: Ilya Filippenko

'We came to the captain and said that something is burning, and at this moment all exploded. The back deck exploded and all the rest caught fire immediately. We closed the door that leads to the aft deck, and ran into the lounge, told the rest of the passengers and everyone started putting on life jackets and running out to the forward deck.

'There was pandemonium, a mini-panic started, but when a yacht came alongside, everyone realised that they would be saved and calmed down. The crew pulled down the rafts, they explained us how to jump into the water. Some passengers escaped by life raft, some by yacht.'

He told how 'everything was burned - passports, tickets, possessions. Foreigners pasports were also burned.' The crew and captain were the last to abandon the boat. 

Ship burned on Baikal


Ship burned on Baikal

A detachment of the Federal Fire Service from the boat 'Dmitry Kormilin' was sent to the burning boat. Pictures: Ministry of Emergencies in Irkutsk

Another passenger called Andrey wrote on his social media  page: 'All of us rescued! Big thanks to the captain of the yacht 'Princess', who responded promptly!'

A detachment of the Federal Fire Service from the boat 'Dmitry Kormilin' was sent to the burning boat. The incident is bound to renew concern about the safety of tourist boats in Russia.  

An official investigation is underway into the cause of the horror, with reports initially saying there was an explosion in the engine. The vessel has undergone repairs last winter. 

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