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Mainly Bulgarians Drown In Macedonia Boat Wreck

Rescue efforts on Lake Ohrid
OHRID, Macedonia (Reuters) -- Most of the 15 people who drowned when a boat carrying more than 70 tourists sank on a Macedonia's Lake Ohrid were Bulgarians, Macedonia's interior minister said.

"We can guess that among the dead, most are Bulgarians but at this moment we cannot say how many," Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska told Reuters, adding that 15 people were dead according to the initial information.

She said some of the survivors were hurt, but were now in a stable condition.

The boat, which port authorities said had a capacity for 43 people, had 73 people on board, Jankulovska said. Rescue teams were looking for three more people who were missing in the lake.

Dead bodies wrapped in blankets were lined up on the lake shore. The accident took place only some 200 meters offshore and the wreckage could be seen at the bottom of the lake's clear waters.

Local people at the scene tried to help with their small boats.

"We immediately went there, it wasn't far from the shore," Gordana Rupcevska told a local TV station. "There were several dead people on the water. We tried to help one who was alive. There were three people we thought we could save but it was too late."

Jankulovska said the cause of the accident was still unknown. Local media said the boat's captain was being questioned by the police.

Lake Ohrid is Macedonia's best-known tourist resort.

The Macedonian cabinet said it would hold an emergency session later on September 5 and declare national mourning for the victims on September 6. Transportation Minister Mile Janakijevski said he had offered to resign over the accident.

The prime ministers of Macedonia and Bulgaria have spoken by telephone and Bulgaria is to send a plane to transfer the dead and survivors, the government official said.