The sinking of the Estonia ferry in September 1994 was Sweden’s worst ever maritime disaster; 852 people lost their lives when the vessel went down in the Baltic Sea en route to Stockholm.
Following the disaster, an official three-nation investigation involving Sweden, Finland and Estonia concluded, to great derision from the relatives of those who died on the ferry, that poor design by the original German shipbuilders of the huge hinges which held the bow door in place was to blame for the accident. The shipyard immediately refuted the claim and said that fault lay squarely with the ferry operator, Estline, for shoddy maintenance of the vessel. Following the publication of the official accident report, a number of conspiracy theories have surfaced, most alarmingly suggesting that the Russian mafia had weapons on board, exploding a bomb on the car deck once it became clear that Swedish customs had been tipped off about their illicit cargo and imminent arrival in Stockholm. The wreck of the Estonia now lies on the sea bed southwest of the Finnish Åland islands, covered in a protective layer of concrete to prevent plundering. There’s a memorial to those who died in the disaster near the Vasamuséet in Djurgården.