Russian ‘tubs’ sail waters despite history of failure

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Prosecutors in Russia opened a broad investigation into the river transport industry Tuesday after a tour boat sank and as many as 128 people drowned, including dozens of children trapped in a playroom.

The authorities seemed to focus their attention broadly, looking at riverboat captains, the owner of the vessel, the tour operator that chartered the boat and sold tickets for the cruise, and the poor state of the river cruise ships in general.

Summer river cruises are a beloved pastime in Russia, but the fleet has deteriorated badly since Soviet times. “We have far too many old ships sailing our waters,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev said on Monday, calling them “tubs.”

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