State media reported a boat capsized on a river in southwest China, killing at least ten passengers and leaving another five missing.
CCTV showed the ship overturned shortly after leaving Guizhou Province on Saturday evening. Strong winds blew the ship over, according to preliminary findings.
The incident occurred only days before China's famous Mid-Autumn Festival, during which families congregate for supper and mooncakes. According to local officials, the ship was overweight at the time of the collision.
Rescue teams deployed in search of remaining missing passengers
At least 46 individuals were on board, surpassing the allowed limit of 40 persons. According to official media, rescuers have saved 31 people as of Sunday, with the majority of those on the boat believed to be students. Xinhua News Agency confirmed over a dozen rescue teams have been deployed to join the search and rescue effort.
Rescue boats, frogmen, and divers were sent to look for the missing people, according to the broadcasterl; however, strong rains and undercurrents hindered overnight rescue operations. Rescue activities are still underway, and the disaster is being investigated further, as per The Washington Post.
Guizhou's provincial party secretary, Shen Yiqin, offered solidarity for the afflicted families and asked for a comprehensive examination of the province's public transportation safety. According to Liuzhi Fusion Media, the Liuzhi district marine department, Xiling Shipping, and at least two other maritime transport firms participated in a safety drill by the latter part of August.
Per SCMP, the practice simulated an emergency in which a ferry loses control during a rainstorm, causing two passengers to leap into the water and trapping four others on board. The drill included over 30 emergency responders as well as three rescue and law enforcement vessels, according to the online report.
"We use the drill to train the emergency response of local marine transport companies," a member of the marine department's staff stated. When questioned about the safety assessment of Xiling Shipping and the transport businesses engaged in the drill, he declined to answer.
China experiences bad weather, earthquake
Guizhou had been expecting bad weather over the weekend, with the province observatory issuing an amber notice on Friday, warning of heavy rainfall and the possibility of landslides. According to the local meteorological authority, a sudden thunderstorm slammed Zangke town on Saturday evening, with winds exceeding 50 km/h (30 mph).
Meanwhile, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Sichuan Province in China's southwest, killing at least three people and wounding tens of others, according to the Xinhua news agency.
The earthquake relief headquarters in Sichuan triggered a level-II reaction, the second-highest in China's four-tier emergency response system, while Luzhou City initiated a level-I response.
China Earthquake Networks Center said the epicenter of the earthquake was 29.2 degrees north latitude and 105.34 degrees east longitude, and it hit at a depth of 6 miles at 4.33 a.m, Big News Network reported.