Officials disciplined over ferry disaster

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 December, 2000, 12:00am

More than two dozen officials in Sichuan province have been disciplined over a fatal ferry accident in June which killed 130 people.

The punishment handed down by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection highlights a trend of penalising party officials and government leaders who fail to prevent industrial accidents caused by employees.

Xinhua said the disciplinary action came after the commission urged all levels of Communist Party committees, local governments and relevant departments to learn from the June 22 tragedy and the impact of dereliction of duty.

The Rongjian ferry was overloaded with 221 passengers, vastly exceeding its stated limit of 101, in the turbulent waters of the Yangtze River near Luzhou city's Hejiang county. The boat was travelling in foggy conditions and capsized after hitting a rock, killing 130 of the people on board.

Four men, including the ferry captain directly responsible for the accident, were sentenced to between five and seven years in prison on October 8.

A deputy director of Sichuan's Communications Bureau, Liu Xiaofeng, and Luzhou city Mayor Xian Kaijin were both given administrative warnings. They were the most senior officials held responsible for the accident.

At least eight officials lost their jobs in the Communist Party or the Government. They included Li Yuanyi, a vice-director of Luzhou city Communications Bureau, Luzhou Navigation Bureau director Xu Weiping and deputy Yu Xianglie, Hejiang county party secretary Tang Deqi and his deputy, Chen Weiguo.

Last month, Shandong Governor Li Chunting and Communications Minister Huang Zhendong were given 'administrative warnings' for failing in their leadership responsibilities after another ferry accident in Yantai, Shandong province, in November last year. In that accident, 282 people died when the Dashun ferry sank on its way from Yantai to Dalian.