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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Divers Plan Ferry Probe To Find Captain's Body

STOCKHOLM -- Divers will search for the missing captain's body in the wreck of the sunken Estonia ferry, in an attempt to discover where he was at the time of the accident, a lawyer said Thursday.

Henning Witte, who represents an international support group for family members and survivors of the 1994 disaster, said a German diving company has been asked to search for Captain Arvo Andresson's body.

The Estonia lies at a depth of some 50 meters below the surface, 100 kilometers south of the Finnish port of Turku, where it sank Sept. 28, 1994, killing 852 people.

Only 95 bodies have been recovered and identified. There were 137 survivors.

A few months after the accident, divers investigated the ferry at the request of an international accident investigation committee.

Since then, Sweden, Finland and Estonia have banned all diving near the wreck which lies in international waters. It has also been declared a burial site by most countries bordering the Baltic Sea.

The ban against diving could be contested as a violation of international law, Witte told Swedish television. He said the legislation only bans citizens of Sweden, Finland and Estonia from diving to the wreck.

Several lawsuits are pending in the Estonia disaster, including a case in a French court against the German shipyard Meyer-Werft, which built the ferry, and the classification company Bureau Veritas.

Witte said he expected a ruling from the French court later this year, which would permit the divers to investigate the wreck.

Reports vary about where Andresson was at the time of the disaster. Some survivors have claimed he was not on the bridge when the ship went down.

The divers would also investigate the car deck, Witte said. "Strangely enough they haven't been on the car deck, earlier," he said.

The Estonia investigation committee was expected to publish its final report on the accident later this year.