Chinese ship rescues ferry passengers
Updated: 2012-02-03 07:44
By Cui Haipei (China Daily)
BEIJING - Chinese sailors rescued 29 people off Papua New Guinea's east coast after a ferry sank on Thursday with about 350 people on board, China Maritime Search and Rescue Center said.
The Zhonghe, owned by the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co, spotted the sinking ferry before noon. It had originally been en route from Australia to Ningbo in East China when it rushed to the scene, said the center, which operates under the Ministry of Transport.
The stricken ferry, MV Rabaul Queen, carrying about 350 people, went down while traveling from Kimbe on New Britain island to the coastal city of Lae on the main island, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. Most of its passengers were saved.
Zhonghe was 37 kilometers from the scene when it received distress radio messages, said its captain, Lin Youfeng, 49. The ship immediately dashed to the ferry's location after getting clearance.
The ship, which displaces 65,000 tons, arrived at the spot at about 11 am local time and joined a rescue operation involving five other ships.
It attached nets to the port and starboard sides and used life rafts to bring the rescued on board, Lin said.
"The ferry was only 47 meters long but it was carrying 350 passengers. It was obviously overloaded," Lin said.
Sailors on the Chinese cargo ship Zhonghe secure a raft that carried people from the stricken ferry off Papua New Guinea's east coast on Thursday. Provided to China Daily