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New plea to re-open search as evidence 'shows crew survived the sinking of the Amurskaya'

By The Siberian Times reporter
10 December 2012

The first evidence that sailors may have survived revealed with pictures of life jackets from the vessel found on a nearby island.

'Searches by helicopter of the Shanter Islands led to the discovery of two life jackets from the Amurskaya'. Picture: Marina Kizilova, nee Stukalova

Relatives are imploring the authorities to restart the official search for the nine-strong crew, insisting that the sensational discovery points to at least some having evacuated the vessel which sank in the Sea of Okhotsk on 28 October. 

Searches by helicopter of the Shanter Islands led to the discovery of two life jackets from the Amurskaya, a relative told the Siberian Times on Monday. 

'The rescuers team found a float and two life jackets on Maliy Shantar Island with the marking 'm/v Amurskaya, Nikolayevsk-on-Amur',' said Marina Kizikova, 29 years old daughter of Amurskaya boat navigator  Alexander Stukalov, 53.

'We are trying to resume the searches because we believe that the crew is alive'.

m/v Amurskaya, search for the crew

m/v Amurskaya, search for the crew

Two lifejackets and a float were found on Maliy Shantar island; below - Marina Kizilova, daughter of Amurskaya navigator Alexander Stukalov. Pictures: Marina Kizilova, nee Stukalova

The families insist the evidence shows that the men escaped the sinking vessel and safely reached the island despite treacherous seas. 

The desperate relatives persuaded the owners of the Amurskaya to fund two days of helicopter searches after the official rescue mission was wound down in late November. The float and life jackets were found during two days of searches, which involved three relatives of the lost crew, said Kizikova.

Now they want a full-scale search to be resumed despite poor weather and temperatures lower than minus 10C this week. 

'In the rescue group were Alexei Kizilov, Ivan Bushuyev, Alexander Matveyev,' she told The Siberian Times. 

'Two days rent for the helicopter was paid by Nikolayevskiy-on-Amur Sea Port, thanks to Sergei Lychev (a senior official with the vessel's owners). 

'The helicopter crew had four people, Chief Pilot Alexei Astashkin, Second Pilot Gennadiy Zhilinskiy, Navigator Boris Melchakov and Technician Andrei Konovalov.'

In the month after the Amurskaya went down - overloaded with a cargo of gold ore - divers reported locating one body on the vessel'. 

However, there was also evidence the lifeboats had been launched. 

'My father has been navigating freighters for more than 25 years,' insisted mother-of-four Marina Kizlova, 29, daughter of the Amurskaya's 53 year old navigator Alexander Stukalov.

'He had worked for Rosneft, and for the last two years he was on the Amurskaya. He knows this area of the sea like the back of his hand.

'We do believe that they are alive, and that we need to get to the islands in this area with dogs and to search for them. 

'They are grown men, a very, very experienced team. 

'If the lifeboats were fully equipped - and we believe they were - than there is all that is needed for people to survive on the islands, namely rods to fish, and means to make fire. 

'They can actually keep alive with such supplies for weeks if not months. But we must keep on with the search. 

'I have heard about people found in the taiga months after they disappeared. In these cases, the Emergencies Ministry kept going with the search, and found them alive.  So why lay down their hands down with our men?'

The families hope the discovery will leader to a massive new search effort on the island. 'We are doing all we possibly can to continue the search by ourselves, and we are immensely grateful to all people and organisations that are helping us,' she said. 

Comments (1)

I pray they're still alive....it would be a miracle.
Johnny K, Sailor
10/12/2012 21:42

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