A criminal investigation has been launched by the authorities in Russia into the sinking of a passenger ship on the Volga River. The incident occurred about 80km to the south of Kazan to which it was travelling from Bolgary. It is feared that 110 people who are still missing are dead. The tragedy took place on Sunday after the vessel, called that Bulgaria, was caught in a storm.

The double-decker ship was said to have taken just minutes to go down and there were thought to have been around 50 children among the passengers. Although the Bulgaria only had a capacity for 120 people on board, at the time of the sinking it was carrying 208.

Initial reports are that poor weather conditions, over crowding and mechanical failure may all have contributed to the disaster. According to Russian media, one of the vessels engines was also not working and even before leaving for Kazan the ship had apparently been listing.

According to spokesman for the Emergency Ministry, Igor Panshin, divers have been trying to find out if there are any survivors still in the Bulgaria by tapping on the submerged hull. He added that no signals had been received and that when the divers shone their torches into the restaurants and holds they could see dead bodies.

So far around 80 people have been rescued from the Volga and 41 bodies have been recovered. Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, demanded that all forms of passenger transport undergo safety checks and declared that Tuesday was to be a day of mourning across the country.