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China's First Maritime Rescue Heliport Goes into Trial Operation
China's first maritime rescue heliport went into trial operation Saturday in Gaodong Town of Shanghai to deal with accidents in waters off the country's coasts.

Located near Wusongkou and covering an area of 136,700 square meters, the heliport has a 250-meter-long and 30-meter-wide runway, a parking apron, a storehouse and a command center.

The facility has communications, navigation, weather-forecasting, fire-fighting and fueling equipment meeting international standards. It also boasts effective connections with major hospitals in Shanghai to ensure prompt medical support for injured people.

China has imported two S-76C+ helicopters from the United States especially for maritime rescue.

Li Zongde, who is charge of meteorological services at the airport, said there was no plan to fly the helicopters on Saturday due to the rainy and foggy weather in Shanghai.

Currently, the helicopters can carry out rescue missions in an area of 80 nautical miles only during the daytime and under good weather conditions, heliport sources said.

China plans to establish three more heliports by 2005, next to Bohai Bay, the Qiongzhou Straits and the Taiwan Straits, where there is a higher likelihood of accidents, the English newspaper China Daily on Saturday quoted Tian Jingyue, of the Ministry of Communications' Maritime Salvage Bureau, as saying.

Insiders said China's program to reinforce its sea search-and-rescue squads began after the 1999 Dashun ferry disaster, in which some 282 people died when the ferry capsized near Yantai in east China's Shandong Province.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2003)

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