No sign of teenagers missing in Urals

Police, and more than 100 rescuers, are still searching for two teenage girls who went missing in the Russian Urals more than a week ago. The youngsters disappeared in a nature reserve in the Sverdlovsk region.

Relatives say police in the Russian Urals have found clothing that could belong to two missing teenage girls.

Earlier, police in the Urals admitted they had been looking in the wrong direction for them.

However, they are still not certain whether those clothes belong to the missing girls.

For the family of 17-year-old Masha Sorokina watching every news programme has become an integral part of their day. Masha has been missing for a week. Together with her 12-year-old friend Masha Tarnopolskaya they were on a wildlife trek and got lost exploring the forest.

“She loves biology, and adores animals. This will be her last school year and she was going to major in biology,” says Irina, Masha's aunt.

Meanwhile, Masha's mother is taking part in the search alongside with other 120 people, who are rescuers, police, local residents and hunters. The total area of the national park amounts to thousand of hectares. Two helicopters of the Emergencies Ministry are also involved.

Both girls were there with their group for two months. The trip was organised by the Moscow Zoo youth club.

The young biologists club of Moscow Zoo has been working for almost a century now. Teaching children to understand nature is one of the main points. Similar expeditions are organised each year. According to the management, this is the first such case in the club's history.

The officials of the zoo say although the situation is unusual, the girls were fully prepared.

“They were equipped with a compass, map and rations for one day and matches. The children know how to get around in the forest and where to find food,” explains Natalya Istratova, Moscow Zoo Press Secretary

“Maybe they know a lot about the woods. But they're children. They can get scared and forget everything,” Masha's aunt Irina adds.

Emergency workers searching the forest
Emergency workers searching the forest

It seems the local prosecutors agree with the family and accuse the trip organisers of negligence. Rescuers also have questions for the trip organisers. They want to know why the group didn't register with the local emergency ministry office once they arrived.

“They didn't have to register, they were not a tourist group, this was a scientific expedition,” responds Natalya Istratova, Moscow Zoo Press-Secretary.

The girls went missing a week ago, and their parents weren't informed until four days later. The organisers are unrepentant, and say it's natural for children to stay in woods overnight.

However, for the families it's far from natural. Their fears for the youngsters continue to grow by the hour.