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Macedonia, Bulgaria: Days of Mourning After the Lake Ohrid Shipwreck

Macedonian government has declared September 6 a national Day of Mourning for the victims of the tragic boat accident on Lake Ohrid, which took place on Saturday, claiming the lives of 15 persons, tourists from Bulgaria. The editor of the Macedonian platform Blogeraj summarized [MKD] the reactions of some of the users:

The ship Ilinden, which was under jurisdiction of the Ohrid Port Authority, sunk while taking tourists along the route between Ohrid and St. Naum. The ships Galeb and Aleksandrija were passing nearby and aided in the rescue efforts.

I wonder how the media dare show such footage from the disaster site [including bodies of the drowned floating under the surface]. Some Macedonian journalists are out of control… Do penalties for unethical behavior even exist? Where’s their humanity?

May the shipwreck victims rest in peace. We wish the survivors speedy recovery, both from their physical injuries and from the horrors they've experienced.

In addition, Refleksii expressed sadness and shame [MKD], fearing that the disaster struck due to incompetence and a lack of enforcement of the laws by the state.

Speaking from her experience as a licensed tourist guide, Vasilka Dimitrovska pointed out that overcrowding of boats [MKD] was not uncommon on Lake Ohrid. She noted:

No improvisation is allowed in the world of tourism. The basic difference between a tourist and an adventurer is that the former pays in advance to make sure his arrangement is safe and without any dramatic meanderings from their vacation plans.

Media expert Sead Dzigal wrote [MKD] on the Comminications blog from the shores of Lake Ohrid:

The media acted as organs of ministries, spokespersons, state services and other centers of power. One could only sadly watch the ridiculous attempts by these ORGANS to line up in the behaviorist race with the human capacity of the audience to synthesize and organize the information in their heads, as they relentlessly pumped announcements and statements which needed to amnesty every freakin’ institution from responsibility.

Even though the sorry hulk of a ship (made in 1924, when Hitler started writing Mein Kampf) had all the permits and inspections by our “state services,” even though it loaded passengers over the allowed capacity, and even though it had two life belts [MKD] on board. Nobody was responsible for that. Everybody absolved themselves with a jinx and continued minding their business and watching football. If there are indeed charges pressed against the “perpetrators” (the skipper and his first mate [MKD]), then responsibility has to be demanded by their “institutional backers and enablers.” Nobody raised that issue. The Public Broadcasting Service acted as a communist bulletin documenting the trips of the individual ministers to the site and their statements of condolence. It certainly is a service, but not a public one. It only serves the authorities, no matter who runs the administration, all these years. Such a convention of ministers on the screen can only be understood as brutal political PR. If some public official has competencies in the matter, then they should do their job, and inform the public through the proper channels, like a spokesperson. Otherwise, why pose on TV as a “benevolent onlooker of the tragedy.” Only one person who actually participated in the rescue efforts (a lady) was interviewed, all those who jumped in the water to help the victims remain anonymous. But, we were treated to numerous statements by the saddened ministers, even though the only concrete action by the one with competencies in the case was to call experts from Croatia to aid the investigation.

I (personally) assume that this is due to omnipresent corruption and reliance on political connections: if you give a person the right to squeeze profits at will, then even the loss of human life is cheap to such businessmen. Therefore, either by boat, airplane, food or medicine, tomorrow any citizen of this country can fall victim to the legal and moral decay.

Earlier, several boating accidents on Lake Ohrid claimed lives and limb of several Macedonian citizens during the last few months, without political consequences or effect on the local public officials. This time, Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications offered his resignation immediately after the incident.

Thumbnail from Mega Star, used under a Creative Commons license

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