June 2015 – CHINA – A tornado caused the Eastern Star cruise ship to capsize on the Yangtze River in China earlier this week, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday. The report emerged as Chinese authorities escalated efforts to recover more than 400 people believed to be trapped inside the overturned boat, deploying scores of additional divers Wednesday.
Meteorologists said the tornado was rated an EF-1 with wind speeds of 86-100 mph when it struck the vessel late Monday. It was about a half-mile wide and lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes in a part of China that commonly sees twisters. Only 14 of the 456 passengers and crew on board the ship have been found alive as of Wednesday morning. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the bodies of 26 victims have been recovered. Many of the passengers were elderly tourists taking in the scenic vistas of the Yangtze on a cruise from Nanjing, in the east, to Chongqing, in the southwest. The disaster happened in the Hubei province county of Jianli, about halfway between the two cities.
Chinese weather authorities originally said the ship overturned in a storm with winds up to 80 mph. Cruise ships that travel the river are not designed to withstand winds of that magnitude because they are not built to the same standards as ocean-faring boats that encounter more extreme weather conditions. “The river ships tend to have a lower standard on wind resistance and wave resistance than ocean ships,” Zhong Shoudao, president of the Chongqing Boat Design Institute, said at a news conference Wednesday with weather and Transportation Ministry officials, according to the Associated Press.“The boat had life jackets and lifeboats, but due to the sudden capsizing, there was not enough time for people to put on life jackets or for the signals to be sent out,” Zhong said. – USA Today
Tornado strikes Northeast province of China