Pictured: Female lawyer swept to her death in front of her young children when she jumped into a Russian ice hole to mark epiphany
A lawyer who was swept to her death after she jumped through a Russian ice hole in a frozen river to mark Orthodox Epiphany has been pictured for the first time.
Mother-of-two Anna Uskova, 40, was seen in a deeply distressing video plunging feet-first into the Oredezh River near Vyra, a village south of St Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday, before vanishing.
Her two young children screamed as she was pulled away by a powerful current of around 10ft a second.
Her businessman husband Yury, 50, dived in but was unable to rescue her.
Anna Uskova, 40, (pictured) was swept to her death in front of her young children when she jumped into a Russian ice hole to mark epiphany
The lawyer jumped into a frozen river to mark Christian Orthodox Epiphany on Wednesday
A rectangular hole had been cut into the thick ice on the Oredezh River near Vyra, a village south of St Petersburg, Russia. She jumped in put the strong current swept her away and she is presumed to have drowned
The lawyer from St Petersburg intended to dip in the waters to mark Christian Orthodox Epiphany in a tradition followed annually by hundreds of thousands of Russian believers.
People believe that water blessed for the annual ceremony possesses special healing properties.
Some people go into the icy waters on their own, while others often take part in the celebration in groups as they remembered the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
A hole had been cut into the thick ice and the air temperature was around -5C when the Anna jumped in.
She was in a black one-piece swimming costume and was seen crossing herself before holding her nose and hopping into the river.
Pictured: The St Petersburg lawyer with her husband Yury, 50, a businessman
Her 10-year-old son (pictured with Anna and Yury) 14-year-old daugter watched her final moments
Anna Uskova bathing (left) in Oredezh river, where she later drowned. The lawyer was swept away by a strong current
The mother-of-two’s body has still not been found almost a week after the accident happened
Volunteers with underwater drones will now try to find her corpse, which was swept under the ice
A man believed to be the woman’s husband, 50, jumped in to try to save her but was unable to find her
A rescue team that included divers was dispatched to the scene but they were unable to find the woman’s body
The river’s current was thought to be moving at a rate of 10ft a second when the woman jumped in
A male attendant standing beside the ice hole shouted for help when he saw her swept away.
Her distressed children, a girl, 14, and boy, 10, were heard screaming in footage of the tragedy.
One cried ‘Mama, Mama…’, as a woman tried in vain to comfort them.
Repeated dives by state rescuers failed to find the woman’s body, and now volunteers with underwater drones are will try find her.
The village of Vyra is just south of St Petersburg, in the Leningrad region of Russia
Pictured: The Oredezh River when it is not frozen. Mr Zuyev said even in summer people often drowned in the fast-flowing river
Anastasia Lunika, the swimming coach for Anna’s son, told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper: ‘This is a very good family.
‘Her son comes to me for swimming, and is successful in this.
‘But that day Yury called me.
‘He was in tears, crying into the phone.
‘He briefly spoke about the tragedy that happened to the family.
‘He said that his son would not go to swimming classes temporarily, but would continue later.
‘His mother went under water before his eyes…
‘I immediately asked Yuri If any help was needed, and he said no.
‘But his condition is, of course, serious. He cried a lot.’
Experts criticised the use of an unapproved ice hold for the midnight dip.
Alexander Zuyev, head of VOSVOD emergency rescue service, said: ‘The woman went for a plunge in a location where there are no rescuers or appropriate lighting in an unsuitable ice hole.’
Alexander Zuyev (pictured), head of VOSVOD emergency rescue service, criticised the placing of the ice hole at a point where the river had a strong current
On the same day a ‘safe’ ice hole in the Oredezh River by Vyra village was created with rescuers and an ambulance on standby as well as a wooden frame and steps to help people in and out of the water
She was ‘simply carried away with the flow’.
The momentum of her jump took her under the ice and she could not get back.
‘It is one of the most dangerous rivers in Leningrad region and people drown in it every year, even in summer,’ he said.
Elsewhere in the village, Vyra village, near Gatchina, in Leningrad region, there was an ‘official’ hole, with rescuers and paramedics on standby, as well as a wooden frame and steps to help people in and out of the water.