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More than 20 missing - including S'poreans - after boat sinks in Yangtze River

More than 20 people were missing today(Jan 16), including four Singaporeans and other nationalities, after a tugboat sank in China’s vast Yangtze River.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that the four Singaporeans were on board the tugboat which has been identified as Singapore-registered vessel, JMS Delta.

AFP reported that the Japanese consulate in Shanghai confirmed one of its nationals was missing. 

It is also thought that Indian and French nationals were also on board.

The provincial government said the boat was undergoing trials without properly completing the required procedures and without first reporting the condition of the ship, as required by regulations.

The new vessel was undergoing testing in the eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday afternoon (Jan 15) with 24 or 25 people aboard, including the owner and technicians, the official news agency Xinhua said, without identifying the proprietor.

Xinhua reports that three people had been rescued. Their condition is unknown.

It added emergency personnel believed some might have been trapped in the vessel’s cabin.

The report said “seven or eight” foreigners were among the missing, including citizens of Singapore, India and Japan.

Earlier it had said a French national might be among them.

Survivor Wang Chenkai told Xinhua that he and a Japanese engineer had just tested the engine “when the vessel suddenly slid over”.

“Water immediately filled in,” he said.

A photo carried by state media showed only the bow and part of the hull of the metal ship floating above the waterline, with a salvage barge alongside.

Reports said rescue workers were trying to raise the vessel and the search was continuing, but Xinhua cited rescuers saying the work was difficult due to the strong current and extremely cold water.

The accident occurred on a swift-flowing stretch of the river, Asia’s longest, between the cities of Jiangyin and Zhangjiagang, which is close to the Yangtze’s mouth near the commercial hub Shanghai. 

In a statement to TNP MFA said that they are in touch with the families of the Singaporeans and the companies they are working for.

"Our Consulate-General officers in Shanghai are at the incident site providing consular assistance to the next-of-kin.  We are also working closely with the Chinese authorities on the ongoing search and rescue operations,” it added. 

Source: AFP, Business Standard

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