On September 27 1994 the ferry Estonia set sail on a night voyage across the Baltic Sea from the port of Tallin in Estonia to Stockholm. She departed at 19.00 carrying 989 passengers and crew, as well as vehicles, and was due to dock at 09.30 the following morning, Tragically, the Estonia never arrived.
The weather was typically stormy for the time of year but, like all the other scheduled ferries on that day, the Estonia set off as usual.
At roughly 01:00 a worrying sound of screeching metal was heard, but an immediate inspection of the bow visor showed nothing untoward. The ship suddenly listed 15 minutes later and soon alarms were sounding, including the lifeboat alarm. Shortly afterwards the Estonia rolled drastically to starboard. Those who had reached the decks had a chance of survival but those who had not were doomed as the angled corridors had become death traps. A Mayday signal was sent but power failure meant the ship’s position was given imprecisely. The Estonia disappeared from the responding ships’ radar screens at about 01:50.
The Marietta arrived at the scene at 02:12 and the first helicopter at 03:05. Of the 138 people rescued alive, one died later in hospital.
Of the 310 people who had reached the decks, almost a third died of hypothermia. The final death toll was shockingly high – more than 850 people.
An official inquiry found that failure of the locks on the bow visor, which broke away under the punishing waves, caused water to flood the car deck and quickly capsize the ship. The report also noted a lack of action, delay in sounding the alarm, lack of guidance from the bridge and a failure to light distress flares.
When was the Sinking of the Estonia: September 28 1994
Where was the Sinking of the Estonia: Near the Turku Archipelago, in the Baltic Sea
What was the Sinking of the Estonia death toll: 852 passengers and crew
You should know: The sinking of the Estonia was Europe’s worst postwar maritime disaster.