The death of

History 15/02/20 the Death of “Indigirka”: the biggest sea tragedy in the USSR

During this Maritime disaster, which happened in the La Perouse Strait in December 1939, was killed, according to official figures, 745 people, including 4 crew members. Owned by “Dalstroy” cargo ship “Indigirka” came from Nagaeva in Vladivostok, and on Board were over a thousand passengers (though the “Indigirka” was only a cargo ship).
the Accident occurred due to the fact that the “Indigirka” stumbled the night of the pitfalls. Getting three strong blow, the ship turned over on its side.

the Passengers were mostly convicts

According to the indictment and the testimony of the captain of the steamer N. L. Lapshin, the “Indigirka” was carrying a large number of prisoners – mostly the passengers on the ship were the prisoners (over 800 people) and their escorts. As stated in the indictment, the transportation of passengers on a freighter was a flagrant violation.
Based on the official version, the captain showed criminal negligence and disoriented the course of the ship, resulting in conditions 9-point storm and Blizzard occurred in a disaster – the steamer got to starboard a few bumps on the reefs, the vessel lurched and went under the water to 9 meters. Storm surges dozens of people were washed overboard. All this occurred in the La Perouse Strait near Cape Soya.
According to the testimony of the arrested subsequently captain of the “Indigirka” N. L. Lapshin, the ship started to panic – of the rescue funds only a few boats. Convicts cut protection (several people were killed), in turn, fire on the rebellious convicts were opened and the hands of the NKVD (according to various sources, was shot about 20 people).
One of the boats launched and it sat 8 people (mostly crew members), four of whom were unauthorized. Got to the shore, only five, the rest died.

saved As

Only 13 Dec closer by noon, the scene of the accident approached the Japanese ship “Karafuto-Maru”. Some of the passengers and crew members of the “Indigirka” was removed from the wreck of the steamer. But the holds were still about 200 people, including women and children. Help came to them from the Japanese only after 3 days. The vessel was cut with a blowtorch, but revealed not all the holds, resulting in saved 27 people.
Many passengers, not waiting for salvation to kill themselves – were heated or exposed veins. As argued by some survivors, all rescued children (the exact number is unknown) he subsequently died.

Japanese site

the Japanese formally were at war with the USSR (relatively recently has died down, the battle of Khalkhin Gol). Rescued and taken to the port of Wakkanai passengers NKVD was ordered to destroy all the documents, and the prisoners were told to call themselves the workers of dalstroi. Escaped 428 passengers and crew of the ship. As recalled one of the survivors, farm worker Nikolai tarabanko, the Japanese treated them well, provided necessary medical care. However, the KGB and the Soviet Consul Tikhonov closely monitored so that passengers do not come into contact with their rescuers and did not take from them any things.


At the end of December on the ship “Lenin” the rescued passengers and crew members were taken to the USSR. The way the guards started beating the prisoners, who, in their opinion, “given the slack” in communicating with the Japanese. Two inmates allegedly involved in the killing of security officers on the “Indigirka”, shot and threw the bodies overboard.
a Long time, the former passengers of the sunken ship from the number of the floor on arrival home could not recover in Japan destroyed documents, many of them were suspected of spying for the Japanese.
For criminal negligence that resulted in massive loss of life, was judged by four officers – captain N. L. Lapshin (he was shot as a saboteur and a Japanese spy), two of his assistants, V. L. Peskovskyand T. M. Krishchenko (they were from 5 to 8 years of camps). In addition, 4 years of measured 10 years served and the head of the criminal convoy P. I. Kopycinski. Kopycinski then even continued to serve in the Gulag.
… “Indigirka” and lies on the seabed off the coast of Japan. In the village Karafuto (Japanese village Governor of Hokkaido) is a monument to the victims of the disaster. Full list of victims is still unknown.

Nicholas Syromyatnikov

© Russian Seven

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