Investigators have questioned the survivors and four crew members who had helped rescue them [AFP]

An overloaded motor boat has collided with a barge on Moscow's Moskva river killing nine of the 16 people on board, officials have said.

The other seven passengers swam to safety or were rescued as the boat quickly sank at 1:00 AM local time on Sunday.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the main investigative agency, laid the blame on the owner and captain of the boat, who was among those killed.

Markin said Gennady Zinger had been found in violation of regulations three times in the past, including for exceeding the boat's maximum capacity of 12.

He said investigators have questioned the survivors and also four crew members who had helped to rescue them.

The survivors included a man identifying himself as a Turkish citizen and another who said he worked at the US embassy, Markin said.

The nationality of the embassy employee was not known.

Rescue crews were working to lift the boat, which was lying on the bottom of the river and underneath the barge.

Stricter controls

Sunday's accident occurred three weeks after more than 120 people died when a double-decker boat capsized and sank on the Volga River.

The Moskva river, which runs past the Kremlin as it makes a large loop through the Russian capital, is plied by a steady stream of freight barges and tour boats on summer days.

Private motor boats have become more popular in recent years, although their numbers remain small.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an inspection of all passenger vessels in the country following the Volga accident.

Following Sunday's crash, the Moscow city government said it was considering imposing stricter controls on all vessels entering the central section of the Moskva river, according to a river transport official quoted on Ekho Moskvy, an independent Russian radio station.

Source: Agencies