Mother and 4 children drown in Yangtze River as day out turns to tragedy

They had returned to their hometown to celebrate the first member of the family getting into university

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 5:21pm

Five members of the same family, including four children, drowned in the Yangtze River as a day out turned to tragedy in central China on Friday, a local newspaper reports.

Mother Ding Jinfang had taken her daughter, nine, son, seven, and two nephews, aged 13 and 16, swimming and fishing along a section of the river in Huangshi, Hubei province, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Sunday.

They had returned to their hometown to celebrate the news that Ding’s eldest daughter, 18-year-old Yao Xiaomin, had been accepted into university – the first in the family to do so.

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A villager walking along the river called police on Friday evening after finding the family’s belongings on the riverbank but seeing no sign of the swimmers. When the clothes were still there after an hour, he found Ding’s cellphone, which had photos of the children playing near the river and swimming.

Police searched the area and by Saturday all of the bodies had been pulled out of the river.

Yao told the newspaper the family, who lived in the county, had gone back to their hometown on Thursday to share the news about her going to university with their relatives.

They had eaten lunch together, then Yao and her uncle had gone to buy a new laptop while Ding took the younger children to swim and fish.

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Yao said her father lived in the Maldives, where he is a construction worker, and was on his way back to China.

“Dad has been working overseas to support us – the last time we saw him was in November, but he had to go back to the Maldives before Chinese New Year,” Yao said. “He’d promised he would be here for the next one. Now he won’t see mum and my sister and brother again.”

After a meeting on Saturday, the Huangshi local government said it would run more safety education campaigns warning people of the dangers of swimming in the river, the report said.