Ningbo: China`s maritime rescue services staged their biggest exercise so far in the East China Sea on Friday by involving 35 ships, three aircraft and 1,000 personnel.
The exercise was jointly held by the Ministry of Transport and east China`s Zhejiang province, said He Yipei, deputy director of the Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration.
The exercise began at 9 am off the coast of Ningbo and lasted about an hour.
The exercise simulated a collision between a passenger ship carrying 390 people and a cargo vessel loaded with chemicals, resulting in a fire on the passenger ship and a benzene leak.
Rescuers transferred the people in danger, treated those overcome by fumes, controlled the chemical leak, searched for people in the water, put out the fire and evacuated 16,000 people living along the coast in the area of the exercise.
Only one passenger "died" in the "accident".
"The exercise was successful," said Xu Zuyuan, Vice Minister of Transport and director of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre.
He said the exercise also tested the country`s maritime security for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, which is expected to attract 70 million visitors from May 1 to October 31 next year.
The exercise site was Fodu harbour, at Ningbo-Zhoushan port.
"It is not only one of the busiest navigation channels in the world, but also an area that sees frequent maritime accidents and chemical leakages. That is why we chose this area," Xu said.