Marine accidents in China caused economic losses of 443 million yuan (US$56.8 million) in 2006, according to the Ministry of Communications (MOC) on Tuesday.
Xu Zuyuan, Vice Minister of Communications and Chairman of China Maritime Search and Rescue Center, said economic losses dropped 10.6 percent from 2005.
According to Xu, 376 people were killed in 440 marine accidents last year. Fatalities were 21.5 percent down, while the number of marine accidents declined 17.2 percent from the previous year.
China launched 1,620 major rescue operation in 2006, with 16,753 people being rescued including 962 foreigners. The rescue success rate was 95.7 percent, said the vice minister.
Xu said that to improve safety China closed 457 factories that produced low-quality vessels last year.
China has established a modern monitoring and rescue network on its waterways, said Xu.
According to statistics, the MOC has arranged 895 monitoring and rescue vessels as well as nine rescue planes covering offshore China and major rivers such as the Yangtze River and the Heilongjiang River.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2007)