China Boat Sinking Leaves 20 Missing Including Foreigners

A boat sank on its maiden voyage along the Yangtze river in eastern China yesterday, leaving about 20 people missing, including as many as eight foreigners.

Three people were rescued, while Singaporean, Japanese and Indian nationals were among the missing, along with the foreign owner of the tugboat, the Xinhua News Agency reported today.

The vessel overturned at around 3 p.m. near Taizhou city in Jiangsu province, which is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Shanghai. Twenty-seven boats joined the rescue, according to a statement from the provincial government’s official microblog.

The vessel violated rules by setting off without first registering with authorities and a team has been formed to investigate the disaster, the government said in the statement.

The sinking is the latest of several accidents in the Yangtze River Delta region that have spurred concerns about lax safety rules. China ordered a nationwide overhaul in the handling of explosive materials following a fatal blast at an autoparts factory in Jiangsu’s Suzhou city in August. A stampede on New Year’s Eve in Shanghai that killed 36 people prompted the central government to order an investigation and the city to cancel its main Lunar New Year event in February.

Wang Zhenkai, one of the survivors in yesterday’s boating accident, was cited by Xinhua as saying that ship capsized suddenly and flooded in less than 20 seconds.

— With assistance by Gregory Turk, and Jing Jin

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