Series of blunders led to David Chan's death

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 1996, 12:00am

I was greatly saddened and angered by the needless and preventable tragedy which claimed the life of David Chan Yuk-cheung off the Diaoyu Islands.

My heart goes out to his family for their terrible and tragic loss. The captain of the vessel owes them an explanation.

It is sheer lunacy and a sure recipe for almost certain disaster to allow anyone, let alone inexperienced swimmers, over the side into big seas while a vessel is moving.

The fact they were tethered to a rope made the situation worse because they would have lost all control while dragged through the buffeting water.

A life-jacket would be useless in such a situation as the force of being towed would have submerged them.

If the rope broke or gave way they would almost certainly have been sucked into the ship's propellors. What is amazing is that all of them did not drown in the circumstances.

Professional lifeguards in Australia are occasionally killed when they are towed back to the beach at the end of a line when performing rescues in heavy seas. The body literally becomes a submarine as it is dragged under the surface.

If the protesters wanted to swim in these waters the captain should have cut the engines and brought the vessel to a complete stop.

They should have put on wetsuits to give them extra buoyancy and to protect them from buffeting they should have worn fins to give them added propulsion.

A rubber boat should have been lowered into the sea as backup to lend immediate assistance if they got into difficulties.

A doctor should have been on board together with essential resuscitation equipment, oxygen and a cardiac defibrilator, all of which are standard equipment to prepare for an emergency.

Apart from this wholly avoidable tragedy the protesters had to suffer the added humiliation of being rescued by Japanese coastguards, the very people they had come to protest against.

I sincerely hope the next wave of protesters sailing to the islands learn from the mistakes of this unfortunate tragedy.

The sea can be extremely cruel and unforgiving. PETER LAVAC Central Who needs to help the mainland Government handle its foreign policy? Who needs to help the mainland Navy protect its country's borders? Who in Japan pays any attention to the tiny minority of nationalistic crazies with known ties to the Japanese mafia? Who gains from fanning the flames of Chinese nationalism? Who has gained from fanning jingoistic nationalism anywhere in the world . . . in history? Who gains from destabilising inter-Asian relations? Who benefited from the death of David Chan? I submit: no one.