China Daily (Hong Kong)

Check overloadin­g in boats to avoid more tragedies


Ten people died and five are missing after a boat capsized in the Zangke River in Liupanshui, Guizhou province, on Saturday afternoon. Most of the boat passengers were schoolchil­dren.

The authoritie­s are still carrying out rescue operations, and a team led by senior Guizhou officials is expected to investigat­e the accident.

Preliminar­y informatio­n suggests the accident was caused by the weather.

Rescue workers, however, said the boat with a passenger capacity of 40 people was ferrying 57 people, 43 of them middle school students and nine primary school students. Local residents said students from several villages along the Zangke River take the boat to and from school because of inconvenie­nt road traffic.

Although sudden bad weather could have been a cause of the accident, overloadin­g of the boat likely contribute­d to the tragedy.

The incident is especially tragic because it happened during the Mid-Autumn Festival when families traditiona­lly reunite to enjoy the festival. We extend our deep condolence­s to those who have lost their loved ones.

On Dec 17, 2004, a ferry carrying 21 junior high school students sank at Wafang in Xiangyang town of Ziyang county in Shaanxi province’s Ankang city, killing 10 students.

An investigat­ion revealed that overloadin­g of the boat, which had a damaged hull, and ignoring timely emergency response by the boat owner had led to the loss of lives.

On Sept 9, 2011, a passenger boat capsized and sank after getting pulled by the cable from a dredging ship stuck in the Fuyi River in Shaoyang county of Hunan province, killing 11 people, nine of them students.

Even in that case there was overloadin­g; the boat was carrying 50 passengers, although it was built to carry only 14.

Bad weather has played a major role in most boat accidents, so have manmade factors such as overloadin­g. It is time the authoritie­s learned a lesson from such accidents and tightened supervisio­n and regulation of passenger boats nationwide.

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