Russian boat accident
© Reuters/Roman KruchininExpanding search: 29 people are still unaccounted for.
Divers widened their search for 29 remaining missing boat passengers after the death toll in Russia's worst river disaster in three decades reached 100, the country's Emergencies Ministry said overnight.

Officials say 79 of 208 passengers survived the sinking of an ageing, overcrowded tourist boat in the Volga River on Sunday.

The 29 people still unaccounted for are feared dead.

The Bulgaria, a 79-metre river cruiser built in 1955, listed onto its right side during a thunderstorm and sank in minutes in a broad stretch of the Volga in the Tatarstan region, trapping many passengers inside as the vessel sank to the riverbed.

"The bodies of 100 people killed have been extracted," said regional Emergency Situations Ministry official Igor Panshin.

Eighteen of the bodies recovered were children.

Divers expanded their search of the area on Wednesday to 190 kilometres around the site of the accident, while authorities prepared to drag the cruise ship out of the water.

Funeral rites were held for the boat's captain Alexander Ostrovosky at a burial in Kazan near the site of the disaster.

"He was a good swimmer, I am sure he simply did his civil duty, heroically, up to the bitter end," said his former wife Tatyana, standing over his body which was covered in a funeral shroud.

The cause of the disaster was not clear, but prosecutors said the boat, which lacked a licence to carry passengers, was already listing to the right when it left port and had engine trouble.

A Russian court arrested the head of the Argorechtur company that leased the boat, as well as a river transport inspector, state-run Itar-Tass reported.

Emergency officials said the boat was meant for up to 140 people but was carrying 208, including 25 unregistered passengers.

Source: Reuters