TALLINN - Estonian State Secretary Taimar Peterkop gave an overview on Monday of preparations for a new preliminary assessment of circumstances pertaining to the Estonia ferry wreck to the representatives of the victims and survivors of the disaster; the state secretary said that an underwater probe can be launched as soon as the relevant Finnish and Swedish laws permit doing so.
At the state secretary's invitation, new head of the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau Rene Arikas also participated in the meeting.
Peterkop said that the government by its decision on Feb. 4 provided certainty that funding will be ensured for investigating the new circumstances of the Estonia ferry wreck and that the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau can proceed with preparations for the underwater probe and launch it as soon as the relevant Finnish and Swedish laws permit doing so.
Arikas gave an overview of the plan of the investigation and highlighted the importance of guaranteeing transparency of the probe.
"In order to ensure transparency, the Safety Investigation Bureau is available for direct communication with the survivors," he said.
"It is important for me on a professional level to get a more detailed overview of the events -- to find out what caused the wholes in the right-side hull of the Estonia ferry and what the causes of the deformation are. This is public information, and I want to include as many representatives of the victims and survivors in the process as possible. Likewise as important is informing the broader public of the matter as the Estonia ferry catastrophe understandably remains a subject of heightened interest," Arikas noted.
"Ensuring transparency was an important clause in the government's funding decision. It is very good that the Safety Investigation Bureau is able to keep the [survivors and the victims'] next of kin informed of its activities through direct communication. The Government Office will likewise continuously remain open in its communication with the next of kin," Peterkop said.
Meetings with the representatives of the victims and survivors of the Estonia ferry disaster will be held at least once per month. The next meeting will be scheduled by the Government Office and the Safety Investigation Bureau in cooperation with representatives of the victims and survivors.