Winds sink two ships, 44 feared lost
( 2003-10-14 07:48) (China Daily)
Severe weather appears to have caused two cargo ships to sink in the Bohai Straits over the weekend, leaving 44 people missing and presumed dead, government sources told China Daily on October 13.
Search and rescue operations are still under way, Zhao Gejin, an official with the State Administration of Production Safety said.
In the first incident,a cargo vessel named "Huayuan Sheng 18'' was hit on Sunday by strong winds west of Bohai Straits on its way to Tianjin from Fuzhou,capital city of East China's Fujian Province.
The ship, which reportedly belongs to Shanghai Yunde Freighter Co Ltd, sank at 12:16 am after it was overcome by heavy waves, Zhao said.
Fifteen people aboard went missing.
At 6 pm on Sunday, another such tragedy struck the cargo vessel, "Shunda II,'' leaving 29 people missing when the ship went down.
The incident occurred as the cargo vessel, which belongs to the Putuo Yonghe Marine Transport Co Ltd in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province, was in the central Bohai Straits.
Authorities said the vessel encountered severe winds registering at scale 11 to 12, the strongest according to Chinese meteorological standards, which pushed a torrent of water onto the decks and into the cabin before the ship sank.
It was believed to be delivering goods from Jingtang Harbour in Tangshan in North China's Hebei Province to Shanghai, the coastal metropolis in East China.
An official with China Marine Search and Rescue Centre under Ministry of Communications said her centre had dispatched a rescue team to Bohai Straits to salvage the sunken ship and to find the missing people.
The official, who asked not to be named, said rescue operations are being conducted by the centre in collaboration with local authorities as well as air forces.
According to the China Meteorological Observatory,heavy winds registering at around scale six in the coming three days will again hit the Bohai Straits.
An analyst from the observatory said temperatures would also drop and rescue operations will be affected by conditions in the area to some degree.
Since Friday, strong winds have been pounding the surf in the Bohai Straits, with such areas as Cangzhou, Tangshan and Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province suffering the greatest economic damages due to the weather.
On Saturday, more than 400 migrants at the Caofeidian Docks near Tangshan were caught in strong storms. Their make-shift houses, drinking water, food and tents were washed away by high waves, officials said.
In Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, successive rains have caused a number of countryside buildings to collapse, with as many as 23 deaths.
Local flood-prevention departments are organizing residents to take precautions, spokesmen said.
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