China pollution

Chinese cruise ship ‘stuck at sea for two days in smog’

Vessel unable to dock safely in Tianjin because severe air pollution limited visibility, newspaper reports

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 3:17pm

A large cruise ship with more than 2,000 people on board was stuck at sea for two days because it was unable to dock in the heavy smog that has enveloped much of northern China, according to a newspaper report.

The vessel finally returned to the Port of Tianjin on Monday afternoon after drifting for two days at sea, according to the Beijing Evening News. The thick air pollution had earlier made it impossible to safely berth the vessel, according to the article.

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A passenger was quoted as saying that the ship was scheduled to return on New Year’s Eve after travelling to South Korea and Japan.

But she was told by the crew that the ship could not dock as visibility was severely compromised by the smog.

She said the passengers had been unsure how long they would be stuck at sea but were grateful there was plenty of entertainment on board to kill time.

“Unlike passengers who are stuck at some public facilities like an airport, we got to use the pool and the gym to keep ourselves busy,” she said.

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The organiser of the trip, local travel agency Caissa Cruises, even held a banquet for the passengers to celebrate the New Year, she told the newspaper.

While the cruise ship was stuck at sea, over 1,000 other passengers were held up at the Tianjin port on New Year’s Eve waiting to board their South Korea-bound vessel which was delayed due to the thick smog, Tianjin Daily reported.

Discussions between passengers and the travel agency, Caissa Cruises, grew heated as the firm failed to provide them with lodging options, the report said. An elderly woman fainted during the fracas, it added.

One passenger posted on social media, saying that many non-locals were stranded at the port as roads had been closed and flights out of the city had also been cancelled.

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The latest round of smog, which started on New Year’s Eve, has hit all forms of transport across the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.

The authorities issued the first red alert for fog on Tuesday, affecting northern and eastern areas of the country

Schools have been closed and vehicles ordered to stay off the roads. A red alert means visibility may fall below 50 metres.