450 Dead In Chinese Ferry Sinking Raises Numerous Questions

450 Dead In Chinese Ferry Sinking Raises Numerous Questions

China's break-neck economic growth comes at many prices. Its environment is fouled, it shows little regard for human rights and its government routinely harms it neighbors in the international community.

Another cost is shoddy infrastructure.

That issue was put on display this week as a ferry capsized in the Yangtze River Monday night, killing an estimated 442 people.

Just 14 people on board survived.

The sinking raises numerous questions about the incident in particular and China as a whole. While authorities have taken the captain and chief engineer into custody, they have revealed little about the incident.

The only detail thus far released is the claim that a tornado hit the ship, yet it's unclear why the Eastern Star was the only ship on a busy waterway to be so badly affected.

Chinese media further added to the confusion, giving greatly understated fatality estimates all week, even as the chance of finding survivors dwindled.

Such obfuscation is a hallmark of Chinese society, where the notoriously tight-lipped communist party feeds the population a steady diet of heavily filtered media so as not to highlight serious shortcomings, usually the result of its corrupt and undemocratic rulers.

This lack of transparency results in problems being buried instead of solved and contributes to disasters such as the Eastern Star. The cost of this fanatical secrecy is human lives.

In a statement through a lawyer, the ship's operator, Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., apologized to families and said the company is cooperating with investigators.

"I have been in deep pain since the start of the incident. I felt extremely sorrowful for all people that perished," said Jiang Zhao, a lawyer for the company.

"This incident caused irreparable harms to the families of the hundreds. It also caused irreparable harms to the families of our employees who lost their lives. ... All my company and I can do is to do everything to work with the search and rescue work, and truthfully cooperate with the investigation."

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