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Crews Practice Rescues in Sea Drills

The first large-scale salvage exercise in China, manoeuvred by the navy and the local maritime administration, was held on Wednesday on the Yellow Sea.

Twenty-three salvage vessels and five aircraft were deployed during the exercise, which lasted more than two hours, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The drill, conducted under the code name "Salvage One," staged various efforts including emergent mobilization of rescue crews, rescue of ship crews who fell in the water, fire control, drainage and sea pollution clearance.

At 8:30 am on Wednesday, a cargo ship, Huangdao, collided with another vessel in a simulation in the offing of Qingdao, a coastal city of East China's Shandong Province.

The North Sea Fleet of the Chinese navy, along with Shandong Provincial Maritime Bureau, began a search and rescue immediately after the red alert was sounded.

Eight air, land and sea rescue groups made up by navy, maritime police officers, public security officers, fishery administrative officers, refloatation workers and medical teams rushed to the spot.

In the exercise, the helicopters were used to spray oil-melting liquid for the first time in maritime salvage efforts in China.

The drill was also reportedly done to test communication skills between the navy and the local administration.

Perils on the sea have become increasingly tough for Chinese rescue workers to respond to.

The latest crisis involved a collision last Thursday between a Chinese oil tanker and a Greek container carrier near Xiamen, a coastal city in East China's Fujian Province.

The sinking of the oil tanker, with a carrying capacity of 8,800 tons, is one of the worst of such accidents in China's history.

And the November 1999 maritime tragedy that killed 280 ferry passengers is the deadliest.

All but 20 of the ferry's 302 passengers were confirmed dead or missing when the Dashun ferry caught fire and capsized en route from Yantai in East China's Shandong Province to Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Communications, a total of 769 passengers died in ship or boat accidents in 1999, a 26.9 percent increase from 1998.

(Chinadaily 09/28/2001)

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