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July 16, 2010

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25 dead or lost on city waterways

SHANGHAI maritime safety authorities said yesterday that 25 people had died or were reported missing in accidents on local waterways since the beginning of the year, a 38.9 percent rise. This was despite a reduction in the number of incidents - 16, or an 11 percent decrease compared to last year.

Officials said six ships or vessels sank from January to June compared to eight in the same period last year.

There were no incidents on the controlled water area of the Expo site, stretching from Nanpu Bridge to the mouth of the Chuanyang River.

"Fishing boat collisions account for most of the fatal accidents," said Hong Chong, deputy director of Shanghai Maritime Safety Burea.

Officials said 1,955 people had been rescued in 147 rescue missions in the first six months with a success ratio of 96.4 percent, a 1.2 percent increase over last year.

Vessels and ships which go through the Huangpu River may be subject to further traffic controls, especially on key waterways near the Expo site, as the city is expected to see busier water traffic and tougher weather conditions such as typhoons, maritime officials warned.

More than 9.75 million Expo visitors have taken 22 ferry boats and tour ships across the river since May.

Authorities enacted seven top-level traffic restrictions, lasting 136 hours, which banned all ships, vessels and boats passing the controlled area.

The prevention of collisions between Expo ferries and passing cargo ships will still be the priority, said Hong.

Authorities began a crackdown on overloading on July 1. Local maritime officials have imposed fines of about 500,000 yuan (US$73,850) on 2,256 vessels so far but still more than 20 percent of ships entering the city are overloaded, officials said.


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