41 Chinese nationals have been confirmed dead after two ships carrying mostly Chinese passengers capsized off southern Thailand’s Phuket Island on Thursday. China’s joint working group has been closely working with Thai authorities to run the search and rescue operation.
Many families are heartbroken because of the tragedy and the stories of the survivors havefeatured prominently in thepress. One of them is the experience of Zhang Haofeng, a survivor from the sunken boat “Serenita”, from which all passengers were rescued.
Meng Ying on the the lifeboat. /Photo via Henan Television
Zhang is a 30-year-old man from Xinyang City, central China’s Henan Province. During the incident, he helped four people survive, including his fiancée Meng Ying, who was on pre-marriage tripwith him.
According to Meng and other witnesses, Zhang tried his best to put Meng onto the lifeboat when the boat started sinking, and then gave his floating surfboard to an elderly couple struggling in water. After escorting them to the lifeboat and helping them get in, the raft had to leave without him since there was no more space.
Zhang Haofeng received treatment after being rescued. /CCTV Photo
The lifeboat did not come back to Zhang. He was floating in the sea with the help of some floats, which he later gave to a sailor from the “Serenita” who kept vomiting. After drifting together more than 12 hours for the whole night, they arrived at an island the next morning and were finally rescued by a fishing boat.
Meng and Zhang’s family were concerned that he hadn't come back and just as their hopes were dashed, they saw their “hero” on the news on Friday night. Zhang later received treatment in a local hospital for jellyfish stings and severe dehydration.
Meng Ying's life photo before the accident. /Web Photo
Due to Zhang protecting his loved one the moment the disaster struck, he was named the real-life Jack from Titanic by many Chinese netizens. “If you met such a man, you should hurry to marry him,” users commented on social media.
Zhang’s bravery and amazing acts of kindness was applauded by many people. As Zhang’s colleague Ms Yao told Henan Television, “He is always ready to help others.” Zhang’s mother said she believed that anyone would have done the same as her son at that time.
Zhang Haofeng’ mother interviewed by Henan Television. /Photo via Henan Television
According to Xinhua, more than 50 Chinese people have arrived in Phuket to identify their family members who died in the accident and take care of injured family members.
Local Thai police said on Sunday the captain of boat “Phoenix” and the captain of boat “Serenita” have been charged with negligence. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.