22 confirmed dead after tugboat capsizing on test voyage with international team aboard

BEIJING, China – Authorities confirmed 22 people dead in the capsizing of a tugboat with an international team on a test voyage in eastern China, after rescuers dragged the overturned vessel to shallow waters and scoured it Saturday.

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

The newly built, 30-meter (98-foot) long Wanshenzhou 67 was on a test voyage Thursday in the river’s Fubei Channel in Jiangsu province when it suddenly turned over.

The 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 early Friday — a full 14 hours after it went down.

An official at the Jiangsu maritime search and rescue centre, who declined to give his name, confirmed that 22 people were dead.

Swift currents had hampered the operation, and it was not until Saturday morning when rescue teams were able to pull the vessel to the surface and to shallow waters for a thorough search inside.

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