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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swedish Lawmakers Demand New Inquiry Into the Sinking

STOCKHOLM -- Ten years after the Estonia ferry sank, passengers crossing the Baltic may still be at risk, say Swedish lawmakers who want a new inquiry.

"Even after 10 years we don't know the cause of the sinking and what led to the loss of at least 852 lives. There are reasons to believe that we haven't taken the right measures to avoid a similar accident in the future," five Swedish lawmakers -- among them Kent Harstedt, who survived the disaster -- said in an open letter. A total of 551 of those who perished came from Sweden.

The 13,600-ton vessel rolled on its side in minutes, raising doubts about investigators' conclusion that a design flaw allowed heavy waves to knock the bow door ajar and flood the car deck.

Harstedt and his colleagues said in their letter that the speed at which the ship sank pointed to more than a fault with the doors. It could mean there was a hole below the waterline, or that the doors were actually already open.

"Throughout the years, even from the very start, I was confident there was something wrong with this investigation," Harstedt said in an interview. "We who were actually there can't understand how they [the inquiry] described the sinking of the ship. It is not our experience of it or how we saw it."

Harstedt and a Danish colleague were the only members of a group of 23 traveling on the Estonia who survived.

"I am one of the blessed people who came back and was given extra time," Harstedt said.

One expert agreed there were questions about the inquiry's findings.

"The obviously false conclusion was that the ship was seaworthy," said Anders Ulfvarson, head of the department of naval architecture and ocean engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenberg, Sweden.

While Ulfvarson believes the risks of a similar accident recurring have diminished, he said a new report would help restore confidence in the investigating authorities and help improve safety.

Sweden's parliament will soon debate whether to hold a new investigation.