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Report: 2 dead, more than 100 missing after ship sinks in Russia

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Russian ship sinks with scores onboard
  • NEW: 223 people, including 80 divers, are reportedly involved in the rescue response
  • Authorities open a criminal investigation
  • The double-deck ship sank in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district

Moscow (CNN) -- A cruise ship carrying close to 200 people sank in Russia's Volga River on Sunday, leaving at least two people dead and large numbers missing, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing an emergency official.

The ship, the Bulgaria, sank at about 2 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) with 185 people aboard, said a spokesman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the agency reported. A total of 80 people were reported rescued.

The state-run news agency RIA Novosti said that police have opened a criminal investigation into allegations of safety violations aboard the vessel. Two women were confirmed dead and more than 100 remained missing, RIA Novosti said.

The agency said the double-deck cruise ship went down near the village of Syukeyevo, in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Russian officials said two ships and two helicopters responded to the incident, about 50 miles south of the city of Kazan -- about 450 miles east of Moscow.

In all, 223 people, including 80 divers, were involved in the rescue operation, RIA Novosti reported.

Svetlana Alekseeva, a crew member of the ship Arabella, which picked up many of the survivors, spoke to the Russian news agency Interfax after the accident.

Some of the survivors had broken bones, cuts and bruises, she said.

"It all happened so fast. The crew did not have time to pull out the lifeboats and were able to lower only two inflatable rafts. Many passengers simply jumped into the water. Few escaped from the chaos in the water, I'm afraid," said Alekseeva, Interfax reported.

CNN's Arkady Irshenko contributed to this report.