A film crew that made a documentary about the 1994 M/S Estonia ferry disaster for the Discovery television channel while diving near the wreck found a four-meter-long hole in the hull of the ship, which had previously been partially covered by the seabed.
"It cannot be ruled out that the damage plays a role in the course of the sinking," Jorgen Amdahl, professor at the Department of Marine Technology of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said in the new documentary series that aired on Monday on Discovery's streaming platforms in the Nordic countries.
The documentary series, titled "Estonia -- A Find That Changes Everything", was produced by the production company Monster on behalf of Discovery Norway. The director is Henrik Evertsson.
Estonia, Finland, Sweden to jointly assess new information re Estonia ferry disaster
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde have agreed that in case of new significant information on the catastrophe of the M/S Estonia that has not been reported before, Estonia, Finland and Sweden will jointly assess the new information.
A Discovery Network documentary about the M/S Estonia disaster in 1994 includes new underwater video images from the wreck site showing damage on the starboard side of the wreck.
"Estonia, Finland and Sweden have agreed that verification of the new information presented in the documentary will be made in accordance and full respect of the agreement between the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden regarding the M/S Estonia signed in 1995. The fundamental idea with this agreement is to protect the M/S Estonia, as a final place of rest for victims of the disaster, from any disturbing activities. Our countries will cooperate closely in this matter and Estonia as flag state will lead this process," it is said in the joint statement issued by the foreign ministers.
The Estonia ferry left the port of Tallinn on the evening of September 27, 1994, and set off for Stockholm, where it was scheduled to arrive the next morning. There were 803 passengers and 186 crew members on board.
Upon reaching the high seas, the ship was hit by waves of several meters in height, and about halfway to Stockholm, near the Finnish island of Uto, Estonia listed and sank quickly.
Altogether 137 of the people on board in Estonia were rescued and 852 people lost their lives, most of whom were trapped in the ship and sank with it. Of the fatalities, 501 were Swedish citizens and 285 Estonian citizens, with citizens from a total of 17 countries on board the vessel.
According to the final report of the Joint Accident Investigation Commission (JAIC) launched by Estonia, Finland and Sweden, the disaster was caused by severe weather, which tore off the ship's bow visor and the associated ramp, after which water flooded the car deck.