The world had been shocked by the recent maritime tragedy on the Yangtze River.
On my own and on behalf of my party, I wish to extend my sympathy to the President of China Xi Jinping, the Chinese people and especially the relatives of the victims of those who died in the Yangtze River Boat Disaster.
Last Monday, June 1st, the 76m-long, 2,200-tonnes, river cruiser, known in Chinese as the Dongfangazhixing or the Eastern Star in English, was capsized.
The cause of the capsizing is not yet established but survivors speak of the cruiser sinking in a storm or the possibility that it was hit by a tornado.
News of the boat’s sinking led to a massive rescue operation being launched by the Chinese authorities. The cruiser is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation.
The boat was carrying tourists, on a river cruise and was travelling from Nanjing City to Chongqing in the south west on a journey of at least 1500km.
The river cruiser was carrying 405, passengers’ mainly elderly people but also, one child, five tour guides, and 46 crew members.
As of Saturday the official death stands at 396 confirmed dead, with approximately 60 still missing. Only 14 of the passengers and crew were rescued. Most of these managed to jump from the cruiser as it began to sink. Three were rescued by divers in air pockets in the sunken cruiser.
On Friday the Chinese government raised the sunken cruiser from the waters of the Yangtze. This was done to search for any more survivors but none were found. The raising of the cruiser allowed the authorities to search for the missing.
The Chinese President Xia Jinping has ordered a full investigation into the incident.
The capsizing of the Dongfangazhixing or the Eastern Star river cruiser was the deadliest maritime disaster in China in over sixty years.
The death toll from this tragedy is the highest in a maritime disaster since the sinking of the SS Kiangya off Shanghai 1948 that resulted in the deaths of between 2750 – 4000 people.
The RPP would like once again to extend its condolences to the Chinese People at this tragic time. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased.
John V Karuranga, President
Rwanda People’s Party