Wednesday 3 June 2015

What sank the Yangtze cruise ship?

What caused the Eastern Star cruise ship to capsize in the Yangtze River with the loss of more than 440 lives? Meteorologists confirmed that a ‘sudden, strong and violent’ storm hit the area, and the transport ministry said the Eastern Star was a ‘grade B vessel’ that might be vulnerable to it.

But others are asking how it could be overturned in seconds, without being able to send out a distress signal, when no other vessels in the area seem to have been affected. It is known that the ship was investigated for safety defects in 2013.

Of the 456 people aboard, only 14 have so far been rescued, including one man who spent ten hours in the water, but hopes are fading that any more survivors will be found. The captain and the chief engineer are in police custody.

China’s worst peacetime shipwreck of the twentieth century came in 1948, when the passenger steam ship Kiangya (pictured) sank in the mouth of the Huangpu River 50 miles south of Shanghai with the loss of up to 3,900 lives. It is believed it struck a mine left behind by the Japanese after World War Two.

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