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.