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Tuesday, 22 August, 2000, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Divers to visit Estonia ferry wreck
The bodies of only 95 people were ever recovered after the Estonia sank
The wreck now lies in 80 metres of water
A team of divers from the United States and Germany has ignored the Swedish and Finnish authorities and will visit the wreck of the Estonia ferry in the Baltic Sea.

More than 800 people were killed when the ferry sank in 1994.

The site of the ferry's remains is in international waters and have been declared a grave site by seven countries - Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Britain, Latvia and Russia.

The US shipwreck expert Gregg Bemis said he wanted to explore the site and persuade the authorities to reopen the inquiry into the sinking of the ferry.

Sweden and Finland sent their coastguards to the area to try to dissuade the divers from their mission but none of them are from the countries which signed a treaty to preserve the site and therefore could not be stopped.

Dispute over investigation

An official report into the disaster said the ferry sank because a flaw in the design allowed heavy waves to knock the ferry's bow door open and flood the car deck.

The ferry Estonia
Theories of the disaster include explosion and sabotage

Relatives of the victims and some experts have disputed the theory and called for a new investigation.

Speculation about what could have caused the Estonia to sink include an explosion and sabotage.

Only 137 people survived when the ferry sank on the night of 27 -28 September 1994 while crossing from Tallinn to Stockholm.

A media poll of the relatives of the victims in Sweden showed that 73% were in favour of a new investigation.

"Why shouldn't someone have the right to find out the truth?" widow Kerstin Henriksson said.

"The people in power have enacted the sea grave legislation to protect themselves, not to protect the victims or the families."

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