22 dead after tugboat capsizes in eastern China

TWENTY-two people have died after a tugboat on a test voyage capsized in eastern China with an international crew on board, officials said.

Rescuers approach the lifted wreckage of capsized tug boat "Wanshenzhou 67" on the Yangtze River. Picture: AP

Four Singaporeans, an Indian, an Indonesian, a Japanese and a Malaysian were among the dead in the accident on the Yangtze Rive. The 14 other victims were Chinese, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

The 100ft Wanshenzhou 67 was on a test voyage in the river’s Fubei Channel in Jiangsu province when it suddenly turned over.

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The newly built ship’s owner, parts suppliers and engineers were among the 25 people aboard for the test.

Three people were rescued, all Chinese, including one man identified as an interpreter who was freed when rescuers cut through the bottom of the boat’s hull, 14 hours after it went down.

Jiangsu maritime search and rescue centre confirmed that 22 people were dead.

Swift currents hampered the rescue operation as teams tried to pull the vessel to the surface and to shallow waters for a thorough search.

The 368-ton ship was built by Anhui Bengbu Shenzhou Machinery.