Cruise ship tragedy on Yangtze caused by freak weather: probe report

(From Xinhua)

Heavy storms during freak weather caused a cruise ship on the Yangtze River to capsize in June killing 442 people, an official investigation has declared.

Eastern Star in Jianli, central China's Hubei Province, in this photo taken on Dec. 22, 2015

Eastern Star in Jianli, central China’s Hubei Province, in this photo taken on Dec. 22

A State Council investigation team concluded that the incident was “an extraordinarily serious disaster” caused by strong winds and heavy rains resulting from a squall line accompanied by a downburst, a very rare weather phenomenon, according to the official report released Wednesday.

The Eastern Star encountered the squall line during a trip from Nanjing to Chongqing on the night of June 1, and a downburst, instead of a tornado reported previously, produced strong winds that overturned the vessel, the report said.

In a very short time, winds reached level 12 to 13 on the Beaufort scale while rainfall rose to 94.4 millimeters per hour, forcing the ship to capsize within just over a minute, according to the report.

The captain took measures to stabilize the vessel, but the wind force was more than double the maximum level the ship could take, investigators found. Read More

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