Overloaded Tourist Boat Overturns, Killing at Least 19
NANTOU, Taiwan (AP) _ An overloaded tourist boat carrying oil company employees on a moon-gazing cruise overturned on a lake in central Taiwan, killing 19 people and leaving at least 33 missing, police said Sunday.
In London, a spokesman for Shell Oil Co., whose subsidiary Shell Taiwan Ltd. chartered the boat, said about 80 employees were aboard. A list provided by the travel agent for the excursion showed 91 joined the trip, police said.
A Shell Taiwan official said four Britons were among those killed in the accident on Sun Moon Lake late Saturday, eve of the Chinese Valentine day festival. Moon-gazing is a traditional part of the celebrations.
Police said they arrested yacht owner Hsu Ching-hsin for alleged unintentional manslaughter in the accident. The boat lacked a license to operate on the lake and was packed beyond its 60-person capacity, they said.
The vessel had been chartered for a weekend cruise for employees on the lake in Nantou, 160 miles southwest of Taipei, according to Johnathan Crossman, general manager of Shell Taiwan.
About 200 rescuers, including divers, searched the lake throughout Saturday night and Sunday, Police said.
Crossman, 44, from Britain, said there were 82 employees and their families, including 30 children, aboard the vessel.
Alan Jacobs, spokesman for Shell Oil Co. in London said: ″The best information I have is that there were about 80 of our Shell employees and their relatives on a pleasure craft.″
Crossman, who was on the vessel’s upper deck, said the boat suddenly capsized as it turned to the left about 50 yards from shore and he was tossed overboard.
Newspapers quoted survivors as saying strong winds overturned the boat.
Crossman and his 7-year-old daughter, Nicola, were rescued by boats that rushed to the scene, but his wife, Julia, 40, and a son, Robert, 6, were missing, Shell official Tseng Tung-shin said.
Tseng said Sally Aylwin, 46, wife of Shell executive Charles Aylwin was killed and another Shell executive from Britain, Bruce Robson, 48, was missing. Aylwin and his two teen-age children were rescued.
Crossman - who was transferred to Taiwan last November - and Aylwin were believed from London, but Robson’s hometown was not immediately known, Tseng said.
Police said about 34 people swam ashore and several were taken to a hospital, where they were reported in stable condition. It was not immediately clear how many crew members were aboard the vessel.
Officials said foreigners aboard included nine Britons, one Australian and 10 Malaysians.