The government wants to meet with the Swedish Accident Investigation Board and make changes to the Grave Peace Act, to enable underwater investigations at Estonia’s wrecks. The purpose is to examine the previously unknown holes in the hull.
Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg (S) says that the Swedish Accident Investigation Board (SHK) has requested that the government should take measures to conduct underwater surveys at M / S Estonia.
– The government has no plans to repeal the Tomb Peace Act, however, we will investigate how the law can be adapted to enable the investigations that the Swedish Accident Investigation Board wants to do. I look forward to a close dialogue with the Riksdag on this issue, says Damberg.
According to Damberg, the goal is to implement changes in the law during the first half of 2021.
Should examine holes
In this autumn’s acclaimed television documentary about Estonia, a previously unknown hole was shown in the ship’s hull. John Ahlberk, Director General of the Swedish Accident Investigation Board, says that the purpose of the investigations is to seek answers to how the holes in the outbreak have arisen.
– This may, for example, involve examinations and documentation of the ship’s hull, in particular of existing damage to the hull and the two holes that have not previously been documented. This in turn may require that parts of the hull covered by sediment may need to be exposed. It may also mean that the ship’s inside in connection with the relevant holes need to be documented, says Ahlberk.
Ahlberk says that so far nothing has emerged in the preliminary assessment that gives SHK reason to question the conclusions in the Accident Investigation Board’s final report from 1997.
How the investigation will be carried out in detail is not yet clear, but SHK may need to take material samples from parts of the hull that are adjacent to the hole.
– I can also mention that it is not relevant at the moment to go down with human divers, but it is a matter of equipment that can be controlled remotely, says John Ahlberk.
Requires change of law
In February 1995, the governments of Sweden, Finland and Estonia agreed to protect M / S Estonia as a last resting place for accident victims from all disruptive activities. The investigating authorities have now agreed that underwater surveys of the site are deemed necessary to be able to complete the preliminary assessment.
According to the Accident Investigation Board Norway, the current legal situation prevents underwater investigations, and therefore the government has been asked to review the legislation. In addition, the Commission wants the government to ensure that further investigations are not punishable in countries other than Sweden.
Prior to the decision, the Accident Investigation Board held a dialogue meeting with relatives and survivors of the disaster. The Minister of the Interior believes that many people appreciate today’s announcement that further investigations could be done.
– I still think that it is an important message that the accident commissions want to carry out new investigations based on this information, and that they take this seriously. Then there can certainly be relatives and survivors who will still feel, when everything is clear, that there are still unanswered questions about one of the worst disasters of our time, and I think that is also human, says Mikael Damberg to TT