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Railway Ferry Runs into Trouble

A ferry on the country's first sea-railway service ran aground not far from its dock in Xuwen County, Guangdong Province on Sunday.


The Yuehaitie No.1, carrying 241 passengers and 26 crew, was stranded at 9:20 AM on its approach to Beigang Dock. It had crossed the Qiongzhou Straits from Haikou's Nangang Dock in Hainan Province. No one was injured in the incident.


With the help of the local maritime affairs bureau, Yuehai Railway Co Ltd, which owns the ferry, organized the rescue of all those on board. Forty-three cargo vehicles were also safely recovered.


The ferry finally docked on Sunday afternoon.


After the stranding, Zhanjiang Maritime Affairs Bureau of Guangdong (ZMAB) formed a special accident investigation group. After inspection, they concluded the stranding was caused by poor visibility and errors by the captain, which led the boat off its route to hit the bulwark on the east side.

According to the ZMAB, the ferry was only slightly damaged. It found 22 defects in the ship, nine of which are serious enough to bar it from leaving the port, four are required be solved prior to departure and the rest should be corrected in one month.

The crew had failed to report to the closest maritime department after they were stranded. Since last September, they hadn’t completed repair and maintenance and hadn’t filled in monthly examination and maintenance plans.


Since January 20, the crew hadn’t conducted drills to meet emergencies of fire, oil leak and main engine malfunction. Other problems included failures of the automatic identification system and the navigation recorder.


The Yuehaitie No.1 docked for around 28 hours for examination and repair and left at 8 PM on March 28. The ferry service in the Qiongzhou Straits has now resumed with the Yuehaitie No.2 operating normally and vehicular traffic unhindered.


Meanwhile, the bureau extended safety inspections to ferries crossing the Qiongzhou Straits. Yuehai Railway now has to give the stranded ferry a thorough overhaul and submit a full report on its safety management system.


The ferry is 165.4 meters long and 22.6 meters wide, weighing 12,400 tons and has a carrying capacity of 4,200 tons.


Its main deck is capable of loading 40 cargo vehicles or 18 passenger vehicles with 1,360 passengers.


(China Daily March 29, 2005)

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