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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anxious Wait for News of 5 Sailors Lost at Sea

ReutersA bird coated in sludge flapping its wings in the Krasnodar region Wednesday.
TEMRYUK, Krasnodar Region -- In a hotel room in the Krasnodar region, Lydia and Pavel Izvozchikov sit, hope and pray that their son will be found alive somewhere in the shallow waters at the mouth of the Black Sea.

Their son Vladimir, 28, is one of five seamen still missing after a storm on the weekend sank and crippled more than a dozen ships and disgorged an oil slick that has killed thousands of birds.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov flew to the region Tuesday to oversee the rescue operation, but the Izvozchikov family said the authorities had told them nothing about their son, a mechanic whose cargo ship was swamped on Sunday.

"He was alive. He made it off the ship we think," said Lydia Izvozchikova, a small woman whose lips quivered with emotion as she spoke outside her hotel. "If all we have is hope, then that's what we are living on."

Despairing of help from the authorities, the family was preparing to travel to neighboring Ukraine to scour hospitals in case their son had turned up there.

Vladimir Izvozchikov served aboard the Nakhichevan, a river ship based in their home city of Rostov-on-Don that was carrying a load of dry sulphur.

The last his family heard of him was on Sunday morning, when he sent a text message to his pregnant wife Marina, telling her that his ship had found a quiet place to ride out the coming storm. He told his parents not to worry.

The Izvozchikovs heard second-hand rumors from one of the rescued sailors on Tuesday that Vladimir was last seen Sunday on the deck, his life jacket and rescue suit done up, as the command was given to abandon the Nakhichevan.

The city administration in Temryuk, near the spot where the ships went down, has put the Izvozchikovs and another family of a missing sailor in a hotel.

"No federal agency, not the Emergency Situations Ministry, not even the firm he was working for -- none of them has even called us to say whether he's missing. Maybe he's out there floating in one of the lagoons, freezing," Pavel said.

Zubkov said the weekend's events were the worst mass shipwreck in modern Russian history. He ordered a safety review after reports that some of the ships ignored a storm warning and put to sea, and that some were not seaworthy.