China's largest ever maritime search-and-rescue exercise was conducted yesterday, involving 400 people, 28 vessels, two helicopters and an aircraft in the waters near Dalian Port, northeast China's Liaoning Province.
The exercise started when a "collision" between a passenger ferry and a cargo boat was reported at 10:30 AM and the National Maritime Rescue Emergency Plan was activated immediately. The main elements of the exercise, including the rescue of 368 passengers and crew members, fire-fighting and clean-up of an oil spill, were completed in 90 minutes.
By involving 24 agencies including the maritime and rescue departments and the navy, the exercise was a comprehensive test of China's newly established national maritime rescue emergency system, said Vice Minister of Communications Xu Zuyuan.
The national emergency system was established in 2005 and the central government has substantially increased investment in it over recent years.
Statistics from China Maritime Search and Rescue Center show that a total of 1,568 incidents were reported in Chinese waters in 2005. The center rescued 16,836 people over the year, which accounted for 95.3 percent of those endangered.
A complete maritime emergency reaction system should be set up and any weaknesses dealt with after it's tested, said State Councilor Hua Jianmin while viewing the exercise.
He called for more investment to improve the available rescue equipment and strengthened cooperation between various rescue services.
More international exchanges in the sector are also required to ensure the safety of China's vessels and citizens in international waters, Hua said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2006)