Freak weather, management flaws behind Eastern Star tragedy

CCTV News

File: Eastern Star Ship File: Eastern Star Ship

China’s State Council on Wednesday released a report on the investigation into the Eastern Star ship tragedy that had resulted in the death of 442 people in June.

The six month investigation concluded that the incident was “an extraordinarily serious disaster” caused by strong winds and heavy rains resulting from a squall line accompanied by a downburst, a very rare weather phenomenon.

However, it added that the shipping company and local authorities were also flawed in terms of their daily management and supervision work.

The State Council investigation team has identified 43 people to be punished in connection with the tragedy.

WHAT WAS THE EASTERN STAR?

The Eastern Star was a well-equipped cruise ship belonging to Chongqing Eastern Shipping Company. It measured 76.5 meters in length, 11 meters in width and 3.1 meters in height. It weighed 2,200 tons, and could seat 534 people.

The ship capsized at around 9:28 p.m. on June 1, in the Jianli section of the Yangtze River in central China’s Hubei Province.

Of the 456 people on board – most of whom were tourists between the ages of 50 and 80 – there were only 12 survivors.

The accident was blamed on a storm that lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes.

At 9:50 p.m. on June 3, rescuers began cutting a 1-square-meter hole on the bottom of the overturned ship in an attempt to rescue victims inside the Eastern Star.

As of 6:00 p.m. on June 4, over 300 people remained missing and 77 had been confirmed dead.

Throughout the evening of June 4, rescue workers worked to upright the capsized ship, hoping to search for bodies and any potential survivors. 

Related: How to right a capsized ship.

 As of June 5, only 12 survivors had been found, with 103 confirmed dead and 339 unaccounted for.

​COMPENSATION

On June 3, China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) said insurance companies would pay a total of 92.5 million yuan ($15.7 million ) in compensation to all 456 people on board, as well as to the ship company and travel agencies organizing the trip.

Rescuers working late into the night to locate bodies of victims of the Eastern Star ferry tragedy. (Photo: Xinhua) 

A preliminary investigation showed 340 insurance contracts lived up to the requirements for settlement claims.’

15.7 million yuan ($2.5 million) will go to the company that owns the Eastern Star ship, and 10 million has already been cleared.

12 million yuan ($1.9 million) will go to travel agencies that organized the trip.

Over 61.7 million yuan ($9.9 million) in life insurance payments are to be paid to the families of 396 passengers.

18 crew members are expected to receive a total compensation of over 3.12 million yuan ($502,000).

​SOCIAL AID & RELIEF

Family members of victims of Eastern Star ferry accident grieving for their loved ones. (Xinhua)

Hundreds of grief counselors traveled to the site to help and comfort the families.

Medical workers arrived at the site to conduct prevention work against possible epidemics.

Many local people and some hotels in Jianli offered to provide free accommodations to the family members.

More than 1,000 taxis, cars and buses in Jianli fastened yellow ribbons to their vehicles in solidarity and provided free transportation to the family members.


For more on the Eastern Star disaster, Asieh Namdar talked with Rod Sullivan, a Maritime Expert based in the United States.

Maritime expert Rod Sullivan on Eastern Star report

Maritime expert Rod Sullivan on Eastern Star report

For more on the Eastern Star disaster, Asieh Namdar talked with Rod Sullivan, a Maritime Expert based in the United States.


Tim Taylor on Eastern Star disaster

For more on the Eastern Star disaster, CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Tim Taylor, the President of Tiburon Subsea Services, an ocean research, exploration and expedition company.

Tim Taylor on Eastern Star disaster

Tim Taylor on Eastern Star disaster

For more on the Eastern Star disaster, CCTV America's Mike Walter interviewed Tim Taylor, the President of Tiburon Subsea Services, an ocean research, exploration and expedition company.


Maritime expert Rod Sullivan on Eastern Star disaster

CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Rod Sullivan, a Maritime Expert based in the United States.

Maritime expert Rod Sullivan on Eastern Star report

Maritime expert Rod Sullivan on Eastern Star report

For more on the Eastern Star disaster, Asieh Namdar talked with Rod Sullivan, a Maritime Expert based in the United States.

Official report indicates freak weather sunk the Eastern cruise ship

Last June, 442 people died when the Eastern Star cruise ship capsized on the Yangtze River. A report from the Chinese government lays out exactly what happened.

Investigators interviewed survivors, including the boat captain, examined weather data and information from the ship’s navigation systems.

They used a wind tunnel and computer modeling software to recreate exactly what happened.

Investigators conclude this down-burst caused the disaster, but the report finds 45 individuals bear some blame including Captain Zhang Shunwen. The report concludes he was unprepared to deal with the weather and failed to order an evacuation in time.

The report recommends he lose his skipper’s certificate.

Other recommendations include sailing restrictions during severe weather conditions, improved ship inspections and safety designs and a better early warning system on the Yangtze.

Investigators initially thought a tornado was to blame for the disaster, but the report finds that though a tornado did touch down nearby it did not contribute to the accident.

CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports from Washington. 

Official report indicates freak weather sunk the Eastern cruise ship

Official report indicates freak weather sunk the Eastern cruise ship

Last June, 442 people died when the Eastern Star cruise ship capsized on the Yangtze River. A report from the Chinese government lays out exactly what happened. CCTV's Jim Spellman reports from Washington.

Captain James Staples on the tragedy of Eastern Star

CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Captain James Staples, a Maritime Consultant with the company Ocean River.

Captain James Staples on the tragedy of Eastern Star

Captain James Staples on the tragedy of Eastern Star

CCTV America's Mike Walter interviewed Captain James Staples, a Maritime Consultant with the company Ocean River.

 

  • gregory jones

    if the only punishment to the captain is he loses his skipper’s licence then it is a disgrace. Other captains safely moored their ships and suffered no problems. He ignored weather condition and though the management and officials should be punished, he should also be severely dealt with. in the past several captains have ignored management dictates in order to preserve the safety of their ship and crew and
    nothing was down to them. In the end it is the Captain who is responsible for the ship.