Safety efforts urged after fatal boat accident

2024-04-15 China Daily Editor:Mo Honge

Authorities in Hebei province have called for greater efforts to strengthen the safety of tourists, especially for water-related projects, after 12 people died in a tour boat accident on Saturday in the city of Qinhuangdao. 

The boat capsized around 2:30 pm on Saturday in the Qinglong River near Taolinkou village, Lulong county, and all 31 passengers fell into the water.

Emergency responders rushed to the scene and managed to rescue everyone, but 12 people died in the hospital as of late Saturday.

The search and rescue operation ended at around 7 am on Sunday. Ten passengers were hospitalized without life-threatening conditions, while nine others sustained no injuries.

According to preliminary investigations, the passengers were tourists from Tangshan, also in Hebei, and most of them were elderly people.

A report by China Media Group said they were part of a larger tour group, comprising another 124 people, and arrived in the village on Saturday in three buses, organized by a travel agency.

After lunch, the 31 passengers boarded an illegally operated sightseeing boat in the Qinglong River, the downstream section of the Taolinkou Reservoir.

Preliminary investigations showed that the boat was a vessel built by villagers, and was not equipped with safety devices such as life preservers, Xinhua News Agency quoted authorities in Qinhuangdao as saying.

The owner of the boat and other responsible individuals have been placed under control by local public security authorities.

"None of us were given life jackets when we were on a boat.... It is very frightening when I look back," a female tourist to Taolinkou told Hongxing News, an online news portal, adding that there were no other safety measures on the boat.

Although the woman was not a passenger of the capsized boat, she said she was part of a tour group that came from Tangshan and witnessed the rescue efforts at the scene of the accident.

Hebei has organized a team, led by top provincial leaders, to investigate the cause of the accident and fix responsibilities. The Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection and Supervision has also initiated relevant accountability investigations.

In addition, authorities in Qinhuangdao have launched a comprehensive and thorough inspection and rectification of the tourism industry in the city, which is a popular tourist destination in the province for its proximity to the sea.

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