Insurers rush to site of capsized ship
Updated: 2015-06-03 19:36
SHANGHA - PICC Property and Casualty Co Ltd, insurer of the ship that capsized in the Yangtze River on Monday, has offered 10 million yuan ($1.61 million) in compensation to the vessel's owners.
PICC and other insurers have sent teams to the site to settle claims in connection with what could be the country's worst shipping accident in decades.
Divers searched the capsized Eastern Star on Wednesday for more than 400 missing people, many of them elderly domestic tourists, as the death toll rose overnight to 18, with only 14 people so far found alive.
"We have set up emergency leadership groups, rapidly implemented emergency response measures and sent small teams who have already rushed to the site," PICC said in a statement.
The Eastern Star is owned by Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation, which runs tours along sections of the Yangtze.
Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd and China Life Insurance Co Ltd also said in statements that they had launched emergency responses to the accident and had sent teams to deal with insurance claims.
China's insurance regulator called on Tuesday for insurers to respond promptly to the disaster and show "humanity and care" for the passengers and families affected.
Ping An said on its official Sina Weibo microblog that it had identified a number of life insurance customers amongst the people on board and contacted family members to cover transport and accommodation costs.
PICC added branches in Hubei, Jiangsu and Shanghai had started work checking claims and handling settlements. The insurer is part of People's Insurance Group of China Co Ltd, one of the country's biggest insurers.
The Yangtze sinking could end up with a greater loss of life than the sinking of a ferry in South Korea last year that killed 304 people, most of them teenagers on a school trip.
The search area around the Eastern Star has been expanded up to 220 km (135 miles) downstream, state television said, suggesting bodies could have been swept far from where the ship capsized in the rain-swollen river during bad weather.