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June 13, 2010

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Shanghai medics in boat tragedy

THREE employees from the neurosurgery department of Shanghai's Huashan Hospital were among the dead and missing after a boating accident on Thursday afternoon, sources said yesterday.

Four tourists died and two are missing after a pleasure boat capsized on a lake in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the local government said yesterday.

The boat was carrying 10 tourists and a crewman on a tour of Pangong Tso Lake in Ngari Prefecture, the local government said.

They all fell into the water after the boat capsized, and five were rescued. The survivors were described as being in stable condition.

By yesterday, rescuers had retrieved four bodies and were still searching for the two missing.

A spokesman for the regional tourism administration said they had received no reports of the accident from any travel service. "We assume the tourists were traveling on their own," he said.

Four female employees -- two doctors and two nurses -- from Huashan Hospital, were on the boat.

One nurse survived the accident and is in a stable condition. Another two have been confirmed dead, and the other one is still missing, survivors told Xinhua news agency.

A group of hospital officials has flown to Tibet.

Dai Ruiming, a hospital official, said the hospital can only say its three staff were missing, since its representatives were still on their way and hadn't identified the bodies.

He said officials had gone to the homes of the four medical staff to offer their help.

"What a disaster for these family members," he said. "One of the missing staff has a high school child, who is in complete shock."

Pangong Tso Lake is at an altitude of 4,242 meters and covers 600 square kilometers. The eastern part of the lake, in Rutog County of Ngari, is the world's highest freshwater lake.

The area is known for strong winds for at least 300 days of the year.


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