China to reinforce maritime rescue operations and equipment

09:41, April 09, 2011      

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China aims to increase its large- and medium-sized sea rescue helicopters to 30 units over the next five years, more than doubling the current number, to reinforce maritime rescue, a statement said Friday.

China's sea rescue aerocade, affiliated with the Ministry of Transport (MOT), has had four large sea rescue helicopters and 10 medium-sized ones in addition to four fixed-wing aircraft in service since it was founded in 2001, said the statement on the MOT website.

Thanks to its development over the past decade, the rescue aerocade has extended its rescue scope to major sea areas, including Bohai Bay, the mouth of the Yangtze River, the Taiwan Strait, the Qiongzhou Strait and the Xisha Islands, according to the statement.

"The rescue aerocade had saved 1,830 people since its foundation," said Vice Minister of Transport Xu Zuyuan at a symposium commemorating the tenth anniversary of the founding of the rescue aerocade held on Thursday.

Xu said that China has established a basic maritime flight rescue system featuring modern equipment with underwater, water surface and aerial salvaging abilities.

China posited its 11 maritime flight rescue bases in coastal cities, including Dalian, Qingdao and Sanya, said Song Jiahui, the MOT Salvage Bureau Chief, adding that the number of helicopter departure and landing sites had reached 59 nationwide.

Experts said it is commendable for China to strengthen its maritime rescue capabilities given rising maritime security concerns triggered by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that struck Japan last month.

"The handling of accidents at sea can demonstrate a nation's maritime technologies, coordination abilities and construction of maritime security forces," said Liu Gongchen, Chief Safety Inspector with the Ministry of Transport.

"Although there is still a gap in maritime rescue services between China and advanced countries, we are confident that we can catch up," he said.

"Governmental forces are far from enough in marine rescue operations. They should be complemented by non-governmental rescue forces and volunteers," he said.

China established a special fund to encourage non-governmental rescue forces in China, which limits the top limit for each rescue operation to 40,000 yuan (6,100 U.S. dollars).

The annual figures of sea accidents occurring on China's coast is not shortly forthcoming, but a statement on the website of China Yinhe Green Cross Public Emergency Assistance Information Network said China launched 559 maritime rescue operations in the first quarter of 2010.

Source: Xinhua
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