Tile Mikhail Lermontov, the 20,352-ton Soviet cruise liner, struck a reef off the South Island of New Zealand on Sunday evening, February 16 and sank.

Seven hundred passengers - mostly Australians - and 329 Russian crew members were aboard. Only minor injuries were reported, although at press time, 35 passengers and one crew member were still unaccounted for.

Tile New Zealand government has started an inquiry to determine the cause of the accident.