China’s maritime rescue services staged their biggest ever exercise on Sept. 4 off the coast of Ningbo.

The exercise, jointly held by the Ministry of Transport and Zhejiang province, involved 35 ships, three aircraft and more than 1,000 rescue personnel.

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.

Rescue teams transferred the people in danger, treated the injured, controlled the chemical leak, searched for people in the water, put out the fire and evacuated 16,000 people living along the coast where the exercise was being conducted.

Xinhua news agency cited Xu Zuyuan, Vice Minister of Transport and Director of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre as saying that the exercise was extremely successful.

According to China’s Maritime Search and Rescue Centre, in the first half of 2009, 882 accidents at Chinese sea were reported and almost 9,000 people needed rescuing./.