China / Society

River ships 'less resistant to high winds'

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-03 07:39

China Daily reporter Zhao Lei interviews Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine:

How could a strong wind overturn a large ship like the Eastern Star?

A: Almost all ships that sail in rivers have a shallow draft and a high center of gravity, which makes them less resistant to strong wind compared with naval vessels. It is not the designers' fault, but the result of careful calculation and consideration of the river conditions. As far as I know, the Eastern Star is designed to withstand a hurricane at Level 10 on the Beaufort scale. However, extensive inner decorations or structural changes would have diminished its wind resistance.

Why did the ship capsize within such a short time, and why were only a handful of people on board able to escape?

A: Without precise and accurate information, I can only assume that the gale hit the ship so hard and so fast that the crew had no time to compensate for the ship's condition, and neither did the tourists. It is highly likely that they fell into the water before they realized what was happening and could use emergency equipment.

Should the ship's captain and crew members be blamed for their escape and failure to save the vessel?

A: That is something the investigators will have to determine. What I can tell you is that the captain and some other sailors should be at the ship's bridge - a place with easier access to the outside. But if the captain knowingly neglected meteorological warnings and insisted on keeping the shiponits original course, it could be his fault.

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