Chinese cruise liner tragedy resembles Russian cruise liner tragedy

Chinese river cruise liner Eastern Star capsized at around 2130 Beijing time June 1 in the Jianli section of the Yangtze river, en route from from Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, to southwest China's Chongqing city. There were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, and 47 crew members on board. Vessel is a modern one, length 76.5 meters, breadth 11 meters, max capacity 534 passengers in 1 – 3 bed cabins.
By 0700 UTC June 2 some 20 people were rescued, among them 85-year old woman recovered by divers somewhere out from compartment, which is underwater. Vessel didn’t sink and remained afloat with bottom above the water, probably capsized vessel was pushed by rescuers to shallow waters to avoid sinking, or maybe, the depth is just too small for vessel to sink, and superstructure got stuck in river bottom.

News agencies say there are survivors trapped inside the superstructure, which is underwater. Not many chances of even dozens of them to be rescued, capsize disasters are most dangerous. There are no salvage and rescue means in human disposal to say, quickly refloat the vessel or somehow get the people, who survived capsizing in air pockets inside the ship, out. They can be rescued either by divers, which is very risky both for rescuers and survivors, or by cutting the hull and taking people out through the torched holes, providing a side of the compartment with people inside is above the water.

Captain and Chief Engineer of the vessel survived the tragedy, and according to updates, Captain is already arrested. According to their story, vessel capsized after she was caught in hurricane, or cyclone, or even tornado. The weather in the area is bad, with strong wind and heavy rain, but be the vessel seaworthy and stable, she wouldn’t capsize.

There is a striking analogy with the disaster of a Russian river cruise liner Bulgaria in year 2011 in Russia. Vessel capsized, because she was initially unstable, in stormy weather after a sharp turn. Captain died with the vessel, he, along with operating company, was found to be guilty for the tragedy. He should know that the vessel wasn’t stable enough, and handle the vessel, especially when maneuvering, respectively. Similarly, Chinese Captain and Chief Engineer should know the condition of the vessel and take necessary precautions to avoid dangerous listing, like sharp turns or open portholes near waterline. Most probably, Eastern Star capsized after or in a sharp turn, with open portholes on lower decks.
Voytenko Mikhail
June 2

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