The capsized Yangtze cruise ship’s outer cabin doors were reportedly sealed shut

The Eastern Star
The Eastern Star cruise ship that capsized on June 1 had undergone a retrofit in which passenger cabin doors that led directly out to the ship’s deck were sealed shut and turned into windows, according to the Beijing News (link in Chinese). That, among several other changes to the ship, made the vessel more dangerous and especially more prone to capsizing, the newspaper reported.

Beijing News has since deleted the report from its website but it remains accessible via its WeChat page , and includes before and after shots of the boat.

Each cabin on the ship used to have two doors, one leading to an interior corridor and one to the outer deck, the report said, but after the retrofit only the interior doors remained.

Unnamed ship inspectors and people who had worked on the Eastern Star before the retrofit told the paper that other amendments to the boat include replacing the fixed beds with wooden ones. This adds further safety risks, the report says, as unfixed beds can slide during winds, shift the boat’s center of gravity, and hasten a ship’s capsizing. They can also block the exits as passengers try to escape.

The retrofit was conducted in Chongqing in 1997, with the purpose of turning what was then a utilitarian ferry into a cruise ship. An unnamed company employee stated in the report that the ship was lengthened from 66 meters to 76.5 meters, which the report states was longer than regulations permit. Its previously flat bow was converted to its current pointed style to reduce drag and save on fuel costs.

So far no charges have been brought against either the captain of the ship or the company that owns it. The fact that the report was eventually pulled from the Beijing News website suggests that the government is trying to stifle discussion about the retrofit until it formulates a response, just as it has censored discussion and other reports about the accident.

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Italian judge orders trial for captain of Costa Concordia

Italian judge orders trial for captain of Costa Concordia

Italian judge orders trial for captain of Costa ConcordiaA judge in Italy has ordered that the captain of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia will stand trial.

Bloomberg reported that the trial of Francesco Schettino will begin on July 9 in Grosseto, Italy.

He faces criminal charges including manslaughter and abandoning the ship before all the 4,200 passengers had been evacuated. 32 people were killed in the disaster.

He is accused of steering the ship too closely to the island as a way of saluting the inhabitants and a veteran captain of the Costa line. Schettino has always denied any wrongdoing, claiming his actions saved lives.

The vessel ran aground near the island of Giglio hours after leaving a port near Rome on January 13 last year.

Last month it emerged Costa Cruises had made a deal with an Italian court to limit its criminal liability for the capsizing of the vessel for a fine of €1 million.

The plea bargain payment means the cruise line will not face any more criminal charges and will now aim to participate in trials as an injured party.