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Joint Maritime Rescue Drill Staged in South China Sea

China's maritime safety authorities staged a joint maritime search-and-rescue exercise Saturday in water off Sanya, a city in the southernmost island province of Hainan.

The drill, the first massive maritime exercise between China's mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), involved two planes, 29 ships and 400-plus staffers.


Programs of the drill included search-and-rescue at sea, emergency response to oil leakage, fire fighting at sea and anti-terrorism, said Ouyang Baokui, director of the Hainan provincial maritime safety administration.


The drill started at 9:00 am with a simulated collision between two cargo ships in the South China Sea, which sank one ship and caused the other to catch fire and leak 50 tons of oil.


The drill was designed to enhance China's capabilities for search and rescue, and improve emergency response competence in the South China Sea, said Ouyang.


The South China Sea, a major sea channel for international cargo transport, sees frequent accidents from both home and overseas. China has been designated by the International Maritime Organization for undertaking search and rescue missions in this water, according to Liu Gongchen, vice director of China's Maritime Safety Administration.


"Implementation of China's commitment is conducive to its own economic development and its international prestige," Liu said.


The exercise is the fifth organized by China's Ministry of Communications and China Maritime Search and Rescue Center since 2000. The previous four were held respectively in the estuaries of the Pearl and Yangtze rivers, and waters off the Yellow Sea and Bohai Bay.



(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2004)

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