Largest-scale search, rescue exercise held along Yangtze

By Huang Zhiling (
Updated: 2007-09-23 16:10

Wanzhou - The largest-scale search and rescue exercise along the Yangtze River was held Saturday morning in Wanzhou, a port city in the eastern part of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

The largest-scale search and rescue exercise along the Yangtze River was held on Saturday morning in Wanzhou, a port city in the eastern part of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. [ Zhiling] 

Sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Chongqing municipal government, the 2007 Yangtze Three Gorges Reservoir Joint Search and Rescue Manoeuvre was aimed at testing and demonstrating the country's emergency response capabilities along the Yangtze, the world's busiest river in terms of cargo transportation, said officials from the Ministry of Communications.

Involving 22 departments such as maritime, navigation route, police, telecommunications, armed police, fire fighting, weather, health and shipping company, the 90-minute exercise displayed the rescue of passengers in case of a boat collision, extinguishing of fire and clearing of oil leaking into the river as a result of the collision, the search and arrest of two "terrorists" and removal of explosives installed on the boat by them, and the evacuation of passengers and boats from a site where an immense landslide was taking place.

More than 500 people from the 22 departments, 68 boats and one helicopter participated in the exercise which covered major emergency incidents along the Yangtze River, said Yuan Zongxiang, chief of the Yangtze River Maritime Bureau.

According to Liu Dongcheng, deputy chief of the Maritime Bureau under the Ministry of Communications, the exercise witnessed the participation of the world's most advanced river cruise reinforcements, a professional rescue helicopter and professional rescue boats.

As China's only waterway crossing eastern, central and western parts of the country, the Yangtze River transported 897 million tons of cargo last year, maintaining its position as the world's largest river in terms of the volume of cargo transportation, he said.

The Chinese Government pays great importance to the development of the Yangtze River. During the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the country invested more than 3 billion yuan (US$400 million) in its watercourse, mitigating pressure on navigation in the middle of the river in the dry season.

Wang Yang, party chief of Chongqing, said the reason why the exercise was held in Wanzhou was that it is located in the center of the Three Gorges reservoir area.

Since the Three Gorges Project started storing water in 2003, the Three Gorges reservoir area has witnessed improvement in the navigating conditions and rise in the number of boats navigating there.

There are 80,000 boats in the Yangtze. In the Three Gorges reservoir area alone, there are 50,000 boats with more than 300,000 employees.

"If any incident takes place, it would result in a heavy loss of life and property," Yuan told

Before the Three Gorges reservoir area started storing water in June 2003, the Yangtze River in the reservoir section featured narrowness, danger and swiftness.

Now with the deepening and widening of the river in the reservoir area as a result of water storage, boatmen are yet to understand the new navigating conditions, Yuan said.

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