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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 14:46 GMT
Weight rise blamed in US sinking
Coast guard rescuers in Baltimore
Three of the bodies were not found for a week
The fatal sinking of a US water taxi in Baltimore was partly caused by rules that had not considered Americans' increasing weight, a report says.

The Lady D went down in high winds in March 2004, killing five passengers.

Safety officials said passenger weight was decided on 1940s guidelines, which made the boat 317kg (700lbs) too heavy.

The Lady D should also not have been carrying 25 passengers, because the Coast Guard had tested it in the wrong category, the report said.

Water taxis ferry thousands of visitors each year to the many points on Baltimore's harbour.

Stability test

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report said the cause of the sinking was vessel instability as a result of overloading.

It said the Coast Guard's "regulatory stability test standards on which the Lady D's passenger allowance was based use an inaccurate average passenger weight".

The Coast Guard assumed the average passenger weight was 140lbs - based on 1942 estimates - whereas the average weight was actually 168lbs.

The Coast Guard has since implemented more thorough stability tests. However, it is still assessing how to change the passenger weight regulations, sparking concern from safety officials it is not moving quickly enough.

The Coast Guard was also blamed for giving Lady D an "inappropriate" safety evaluation based on a vessel in a different category.

As a result the boat was given too large a capacity.

The boat was travelling between Fort McHenry and Fells Point when it was caught in stormy winds, rolled over and capsized.

Three of the bodies were not found for a week. One of those killed was a six-year-old boy.

The report called for sea masters to have "a simple and ready means such as a mark on the hull to determine whether their vessels are overloaded and potentially unsafe".

The National Weather Service said in August it had not supplied timely warnings of the storm.



SEE ALSO:
Weight probe in US boat tragedy
05 Oct 05 |  Americas
Tourist dies in US boat accident
07 Mar 04 |  Americas
'Crew shortage' on sunken US boat
04 Oct 05 |  Americas
Tourists die in US boat disaster
03 Oct 05 |  Americas


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