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High waves responsible for damage to ferry: Taichung Port
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
Page 2
2010-08-10 12:00 AM
Strong waves caused by a tropical storm were responsible for damaging a ship carrying more than 300 passengers, the Taichung port authorities said yesterday, while the Ministry of Transportation pronounced it unsuitable for use across the Taiwan Straits.

The OceanLaLa was traveling from Makong, the capital of Penghu, to Taichung Harbor Sunday evening when waves crashed on board and damaged the ship. The National Rescue Command Center and the Coast Guard Administration sent five patrol ships to escort the ferry on the final 8.7 nautical miles of its journey. Military helicopters and harbor tugs also came to the rescue, reports said.

The ship arrived in Taichung at around 11 p.m. Sunday, with seven of its 327 passengers and crew taken to hospital for short treatment.

The ship was made to withstand wind force 5, but because of tropical storm Dianmu raging near Taiwan, the wind force Sunday reached 8, said Taichung Harbor Bureau Vice Chairman Chen Yi-hsiung. The ferry faced waves up to 6 meters high instead of the normal 2.5 meters, he said.

After the incident, the Ministry of Transportation said it had originally told the operator that the OceanLaLa was a type of ferry only suited for lakes and internal seas, not for traffic across the Taiwan Straits.

The OceanLaLa was made in Spain before Excalibur International Marine Corporation reportedly spent NT$770 million (US$24.3 million) to buy and convert the vessel. In 2008, the ferry began serving the route between Penghu and Taichung, but later also traveled between Taichung and Xiamen in China's Fujian Province.

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