Mon, Apr 21, 2014 - Page 3 News List

South Korean ferry disaster prompts emergency drills

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan is to hold emergency response drills for seven passenger and cargo ships in the wake of the South Korean ferry disaster on Wednesday last week, the Maritime and Ports Bureau said, adding that the drills are to be completed within one month.

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the South Korean ferry sinking had risen to 58, with rescuers continuing to search for more than 200 missing people.

The bureau said it had met with representatives of China Corporation Register of Shipping, Ship and Ocean Industries Research and Development Center, as well as disaster search and rescue professionals on Friday to review the nation’s maritime safety measures.

The most important decision made at the meeting was that five Taiwanese ferries and two cargo ships must undergo emergency response drills within a month, the bureau said.

The vessels are the Taima Ferry (台馬輪), which operates between Taiwan and Matzu, the Taihua (台華輪) and Hofu ferries (合富輪) between Taiwan and Penghu, Natchan Rera (麗娜輪) between Keelung and Hualien and Taimin Star (台閩之星) between Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province, as well as Cosco Star (中遠之星) and Haixiaohao (海峽號), two regular shipping services registered in China, which are to be checked to ensure they are equipped with facilities to cope with emergency situations.

Aside from the emergency response drills, attendants at the meeting agreed that the shipping firms should enhance the broadcasts of films demonstrating how passengers can safely exit the ships in case of an emergency and should regularly stage drills.

Meanwhile, the bureau also launched a safety inspection program to cover passenger ships docking in the nation’s seaports.

The bureau’s director-general and deputy director-general supervised the inspection of the Taima Ferry as well as cruise liner Superstar Aquarius of Hong Kong-based Star Cruises at the Keelung Port on Friday.

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