Chinese officials are now saying a tornado caused the capsizing of an Eastern Star cruse ship traveling down the Yangtze River, killing hundreds of people late Monday. According to meteorologists, the tornado was rated an EF-1 (the 2nd weakest category) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with wind speeds of 86 to 100 miles per hour. They say the twister was approximately 1/2-a-mile wide and lasted 15 to 20 minutes. It occurred in an area of China where tornadoes commonly occur. Whereas ocean-faring boats are built to withstand more extreme weather and might survive winds of that speed, boats that travel the river aren’t built to withstand winds of that magnitude.
Four-hundred and fifty-six passengers and crew were aboard the ship that capsized. As of Wednesday morning, just 14 of those people had been found alive.
1. Doyle Rice, “Tornado Caused Cruse Ship to Capsize on River, China Says.” USA Today 6/4/2015, p. 2A