22 dead in Yangtze River boat tragedy

Owner of the boat had not followed procedure for water-testing operation

Shanghai: Twenty-two people died after a survey tugboat sank on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, state media reported on Saturday.

Three passengers — all Chinese citizens — have been rescued, an official from the search and rescue office
of the Jiangsu Maritime Administration said.


The boat, Wanshenzhou 67, was lifted out of the water. Pic/AP

Those rescued included an interpreter and the suppliers of some of the equipment on board. The boat, which had 25 people aboard, was “testing water” in the Hubei channel.

Among the 25 on board were eight foreign nationals.

Rescuers said their efforts were hampered by strong currents and cold water.

As many as 23 vessels were involved in search and rescue operations, including a crane that was used to lift the boat, which turned over as it was pulled out of the water.

First person account
One of the rescued passengers, identified as translator Wang Chenkai, said that he tried to hold on to one of the Japanese engineers but the current broke his grip.

“Only the two of us were in the cockpit,” he said. “We had just finished the host load test of the main engine of the boat, when the vessel suddenly slid over. Water immediately filled in,” he explained.

The owner of the boat had not followed procedure for the water-testing operation and had not filed a route.

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