China's first professional airborne maritime rescue service will begin operation on July 15 after four months of trial operation, said resources with the Ministry of Communications Friday.
The rescue service in Shanghai will be responsible for saving people life when accidents occur in the East China Sea.
More such rescue services will be set up in the future to deal with accidents in other key waters off the country's coasts, said Song Jiahui, director of the salvage bureau under the Maritime Safety Administration of the Ministry of Communications.
The Shanghai maritime rescue service was set up in March, 2001, with over 70 staff members who have received professional sea rescue training. The service has been in training since March 15 of this year.
China has imported two S-76C+ helicopters from the United States for the maritime rescue squad.
Currently, the helicopters can carry out rescue missions in an area of 80 nautical miles only during the day and under good weather conditions, said the ministry. After five to eight years of practice, they will also work at night and in bad weather.
The ministry has also set up China's first maritime rescue heliport in Gaodong Town of Shanghai.
To strengthen the country's emergency rescue capability at sea, China's existing marine salvage bureaus have been separated into three rescue bureaus for "life saving" and three salvage bureaus for "salvaging".
Under the Ministry of Communications reform plan, three new sections, the North China Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea rescue bureaus, have been set up, providing round-the-clock service for rescue and emergency assistance.
Meanwhile, the three newly established salvage bureaus in Yantai, Shanghai and Guangzhou will be confined to the salvage of sunken boats, freight and the elimination of hazards in water courses and sea ports.
(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2003)