Day of mourning in Ukraine for tugboat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko declared a day of mourning yesterday for the 38 victims of two tragedies that have struck the country.

Mr Yushchenko expressed his sympathy to the families of the victims of the Neftegaz-67 tugboat that sank in Hong Kong in March and a Mi-8 helicopter that crashed on the Black Sea on Monday.

He ordered all flags to be lowered and entertainment events and concerts cancelled.

Mr Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk also wrote a note of sympathy about the Mi-8 crash.

The day of mourning came just after Hong Kong rescuers recovered the bodies of 15 Neftegaz-67 sailors who had been missing since the tugboat collided with the Chinese- registered cargo ship Yaohai and sank near Tuen Mun on March 22.

Eighteen of 24 sailors from the tug died. All 20 people on the helicopter died.

The Mi-8 was transporting staff to a gas platform 70km off the Black Sea coast when it hit the platform and exploded.

Chornomornaftogaz, which owned both the helicopter and the tugboat and employed all the victims, announced compensation of HK$1.63 million for the families of those who died.

Children of the victims will receive financial support until the age of 16 and education assistance.

Chornomornaftogaz will offer employment to the wives of those who died.

For the families of the victims of the Mi-8 crash, the Ukrainian government will pay an extra US$2.4 million, including US$15,000 to each dependent and US$17,000 per burial, Ukrainian Transportation and Communication Minister Yosyp Vinsky said.

Ukranians were still baffled how two such tragic accidents could happen in the same company in such a short time.

Two investigations into the cause of the Neftegaz-67 sinking that began in March, one in Ukraine and another in Hong Kong, are still going on.

The helicopter's black box was found yesterday.

Ukrainian ambassador to China Serhiy Kamyshev, representatives from Chornomornaftogaz, and the six surviving sailors from the boat crash, including Captain Yuri Kulemesin, are still in Hong Kong inspecting the salvaged tugboat.


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