A new investigation into the MS Estonia disaster?

Twenty-six years after the sinking of the MS Estonia, new footage is fuelling speculation about the cause of the disaster. It shows a four-metre hole in the starboard side of the ship's hull which, according to the chairman of the Estonian investigative committee, points to a collision with a submarine. The ferry sank in 1994 on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm, killing 852 people.

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Postimees (EE) /

A dubious new theory

Postimees journalist Erkki Koort criticises how willing many Estonians are to accept the theory that the MS Estonia was rammed by a submarine:

“The alleged new facts have opened up old wounds and given rise to new speculation. Few TV productions have had this kind of publicity. And now we're all discussing it. At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis a meme made the rounds about how all the political analysts had now become epidemiologists. On 28.09.2020 many of us became naval architects and naval specialists. Lawyers are sitting in warm rooms discussing submarines in stormy seas as if they were talking about the commented edition of the penal code ... I understand our interest in the Estonia disaster, but I don't understand how we can fall for a theory that is not supported by facts.”

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (EE) /

Tallinn's inglorious role

The Estonian government is not above trying to exploit this tragedy politically, ERR criticises:

“The truth is of no use to the government, but pretending to be intensely involved in a sensitive issue that concerns the voters certainly is. A documentary film is not an unbiased examination of historical events but an artistic representation produced with images from real life. No matter how powerful this depiction, which in this case was meant to convey the impression that a crime was committed, it cannot be the basis of an investigation or serve as evidence for it. ... For a year and a half now, the governing coalition's central message has been that those who came before it did everything wrong. It sees a wonderful opportunity here to continue to weave this narrative.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Refute conspiracy theories

More than 500 Swedes died in the disaster. Svenska Dagbladet argues that a new investigation can only help to dispel the doubts about the official version that were already widespread before the new footage came to light:

“This time the Estonia disaster must be investigated more thoroughly and using international expertise. All cards must be laid on the table. As long as there is no credible explanation for the hole in the hull, myths will continue to flourish and become increasingly political. The potential damage in the form of continued suffering for relatives, poorer relations with our neighbouring countries and drastically reduced confidence in the public sector outweighs consideration for a government that left office long ago.”

Postimees (EE) /

No peace for the dead yet

The "peace of the grave" imposed by Estonia on the sunken ferry should not prevent the quest for the truth, argues Postimees:

“The discovery of the hole rekindles the suspicion that the ferry was transporting military goods and that the accident was caused by a collision with the accompanying submarine. This raises the serious question of responsibility. For the moment it is only a hypothesis, accompanied by unproven accusations. It is possible that they are unfounded. But the worst scenario would be for them to remain unchecked. Only the truth can give true peace in the grave to the victims and peace of mind to the relatives.”

Õhtuleht (EE) /

Fear of compensation claims could block investigation

The wreck must be recovered from the seabed, Õhtuleht demands:

“The hole that the camera of the diving robot discovered in the hull of the Estonia makes a new investigation necessary. ... The treaty between Estonia, Finland and Sweden on the peace of the grave - which was meant to prevent robbery and looting - is preventing the ssalvage of the wreck. But any agreement can be terminated. The other counter-argument is the high cost of recovery, even though no one has put a figure on it yet. But could it be that this not about the cost of the recovery but about potential claims for damages by the relatives in the event that it turns out that stormy weather was not to blame for the accident?”