Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Rescuers begin to cut capsized ship in search for survivors. The real trick is how the vessel will be held steady to prevent it from sinking further

Rescue workers are cutting into the hull of a cruise ship that capsized late on Monday, in an escalated effort to find survivors from more than 400 people believed to have been trapped inside.

The Eastern Star disaster in the Yangtze River could become China's deadliest shipping accident in almost seven decades. Over 450 people were onboard the ship when it sank on Monday night after being hit by a tornado in Jianli, Hubei Province.

Rescuers have only found 14 survivors, and so far have retrieved 26 bodies, leaving over 400 people still unaccounted for.

Rescuers plan to cut a 55-60cm rectangular hole on the bottom of the upturned ship to give divers better access to the hull, the rescue headquarters at the site told Xinhua.

  • "The ship sank in a very short time frame, so there could still be air trapped in the hull," Li Qixiu of the Naval University of Engineering told Xinhua over telephone, "and that means there could still be survivors."
  • The real trick is how the vessel will be held steady to prevent it from sinking further during the operation. The escape of any air trapped in the hull could cause the ship to lose what buoyancy it has and sink deeper into the water, he said.

Li said divers have managed to attach the steel cables to the hull and the plan is to support the ship with cranes while rescuers search inside.

The engineering expert warned over the inevitable thinning of air in a closed space over time where people are breathing, adding that "the longer it takes, the less likely we are able to find survivors."

"We are racing against time, but will never going to give up," he said.

    Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
3/6/15
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