A tragic summer camp accident in Russia’s northwestern region of Karelia left at least 14 children and one adult dead after camp supervisors ignored the repeated cyclone warnings and organized a boating expedition.
Three inflatable boats, reportedly carrying 47 children and 4 adult instructors, capsized on Lake Syamozero on Saturday. The Department of Labor and Social Security said the victims were from 12 to 13 years old and belonged to the capital city of Moscow.
“A great tragedy has occurred in Karelia,” City Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted. “My condolences to their families and friends.”
The camp counselors, according to official reports, not only hosted a boating trip in bad weather, but also did not inform rescue services ahead of time.
“If the group had been registered and wouldn’t have establish communication in due time, the rescue workers would’ve started the search immediately. But here time was lost,” the press service said.
The search operation for the drowned children began after one of the kids washed up on the shore of nearby village in the early hours of Sunday.
“Out of 33 [rescued] children, 12 were taken to medical facilities. There is no threat to their life,” said Igor Panin, head of the Northwest Regional Center of The Ministry of Emergency Situations.
At least four children are still missing while the bodies of the deceased children have been transported to Moscow.
“Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to bring back the children,” Vladimir Markin, a representative for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement. “I sympathize with all the parents and those close to the children, who died because of the negligence and stupidity of the adults, with whom they had entrusted what was dearest to them: the lives and health of their children.”
He also noted that most of the children died from hypothermia as the water temperature in the lake was between 8C and 10C (46F and 50F) at the time of the accident. Moreover, the children were not wearing safety vests.
The police arrested a camp supervisor and are on the lookout for the other two who have reportedly “gone into hiding.” They authorities also opened a federal criminal investigation over suspected safety violations at the camp.