Sinking of the SS Kiangya

Published by the People's Communication Press on November 1997, "A Brief History of Navigation on the Yangtze River" says the Jiangya ship, altogether with 3253 passengers aboard, suddenly exploded after sailing out of Wusong Estuary, December 3, 1948. "The victim number hit over 2350". While according to Wuhan Evening reporting, the "Brief History" published in May 1992 says there is altogether 2798 people on board, and " a total of 1483 passengers and crew died" after the explosion and sinking of the ship. Here appears a gap of 867 number of victims between the two.

Within minutes the SS Kiangya had sunk in shallow water to the riverbed. Passengers on the lower decks had little chance for escape. Some 700 who managed to reach the safety of the top deck stood in cold water waisthigh, screaming for help. One hysterical woman threw her child overboard because her husband was lost; others were pushed off in the struggle for standing room.

SS Kiangya (or Jiangya) was a Chinese passenger steamship which blew up, probably after hitting a mine (possibly left behind by the Imperial Japanese Navy) which destroyed her stern, in the mouth of the Huangpu River fifty miles north of Shanghai on 4 December 1948.

The Kiangya had a displacement of 2,100 tons and was packed with refugees from the Chinese Civil War fleeing the advancing Communist army when she sank. The exact death toll is unknown. 2,150 passengers were listed on the manifest (her official capacity was 1,186), but she was almost certainly carrying many stowaways. Rescuers were unaware of the disaster for some hours. It is thought that between 2,750 and 3,920 died, with 700 to 1,000 survivors being picked up by other vessels.