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'I've grown fat, got a tan & now look like a Siberian'
Vladimir Lenin, 1897, in Siberian exile

Our men are alive - please do NOT give up the search

By The Siberian Times reporter
06 December 2012

Relatives of the sailors lost almost six weeks ago on a gold-ore carrying freighter are begging the authorities to keep hunting for the crew.

Amurskaya boat navigator Alexander Stukalov, 53. Picture: Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova) personal page

One unidentified body was found on the wreck by divers, but the other eight remain missing after the Amurskaya cargo ship sank in stormy seas on 28 October. One month after the vessel's loss, the authorities wound down the rescue effort, with the Sea of Okhotsk too rough for further dives, and winter setting in on surrounding coasts.

'My father has been navigating freighters for more than 25 years', insisted mother-of-four Marina Kizilova, 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?'

to find m/v Amurskaya crew

'We mustn't give us'. Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova) on her wedding day with husband Alexei, who is now in the team of volunteers helping to search for the crew. Picture: Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova) personal page

Marina has written three letters to President Vladimir Putin calling for a response from the authorities. 

'So far what I heard back was the acknowledgment that the letters were received, but there was no answer,' she said. 

The families also started an appeal for funds on a social network, seeking money to continue flying helicopters over the bleak Shantar Islands where they believe the men may have landed in lifeboats.

to find m/v Amurskaya crew

to find m/v Amurskaya crew

Relatives think the most likely islands where searches should be conducted are Maliy Shantar and Belichiy, both within the Shantar Islands group in the Sea of Okhotsk. Pictures: Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova) personal page

They stopped the appeal after the authorities assured them they have not given up hope and the owners of the Amurskaya, the 'Nikolayevskiy-na-Amure' Sea Port company, agreed to sponsor further searches.

'My husband Alexei is a volunteer in the rescue team we have formed ourselves,' said Marina. 'He has been away for days now and I'm waiting for him to get back home to review the situation. 

'We cannot and we must not stop. My mother, my sister, my husband, four of our children are waiting for my father to be back - safe and sound. We have got to keep going!'

Their hope is spurred by the fact that the lifeboats are missing from the wreck and ladders had been lowered, suggesting at some some of the crew scrambled to abandon  the sinking vessel.

An extensive search of the wide area of the sea also failed to find bodies or wreckage from the lifeboats. 

The families' appeal on Vkontakte said there was 'no single proof that the crew are dead'.

to find m/v Amurskaya crew

to find m/v Amurskaya crew

Oleg Fedotov, 33, Amurskaya Captain Chief Mate and below Liydmila, mother of one of the sailors. Pictures: Marina Kizilova (nee Stukalova) personal page and KP Vladivostok

They added:  'There is certain evidence pointing to the crew managing to get on the lifeboats which then were taken by the sea towards the islands.'

In late November, the rescue boat Rubin surveyed the shore of the Large Shantar Island, to no avail. 

But relatives want helicopter searches as the most effective means of spotting possible survivors. 

Despite this, the weather conditions - thick low cloud, snow and freezing conditions - make searches difficult.

'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,' said Marina.

Legal action is underway against the owners over the circumstances under which the vessel went to sea in stormy conditions.

The ship was significantly overloaded with its gold ore cargo, say investigators. 

Comments (2)

praying for your and your men
Svetlana, Russia
06/12/2012 23:30
Our thoughts are with you Marina.
Jayne, Boston
06/12/2012 23:06

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