Another P&O steamer lost, the Bokhara

The tragic shipwreck of the steamer "Bokhara"

By Pascal Kainic


(Account from various newspapers)

...One hundred and twenty persons missing. Official report.

In response to the message dispatched by Sir Thomas Sutherland, Chairman of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, to the agents of the company at Shangaï and Hong Kong, asking for the fullest particulars respecting the wreck of the steamship “Bokhara”, together with a list of the drowned and the names of the survivors. Hong Kong 18th October –

“Chief Officer “Bokhara” reports:

“Bokhara” struck Monday night, 10th October, vessel becoming helpless at 10 pm., owing to the heavy seas putting fires out. All deck fittings and boats gone before vessel struck, she sinking immediately. European and native crew acted splendidly throughout. One hundred and two of the crew missing… Further details will be forwarded as soon as the weather permits.

The cargo consisted of : - Treasure $ 200.000, silk 1300 bales, tea 800 tons and general cargo”

The course from Shangai to Hong Kong is one of the most dangerous in that part of the world. It abounds with rocks and islands which are inadequately lighted. The coast is rough and inhospitable with powerful currents, and near to the island upon the “Bokhara” lies wrecked, there is a well-known jungle, swarming with tigers and other wild beats.

At this season of the year, the China seas are visited by typhoons, and one occurring in the particular region where the “Bokhara” has been wrecked places a ship in certain jeopardy. Large numbers of coasting steamers are lost yearly. The Chinese junks go down in scores.

The Peninsular and Oriental commanders during the run down or up the coast, pass the night invariably on deck, even in the finest weather, so critical is the navigation and so strong are the currents. Another element of danger to a shipwrecked crew is in the piracy which still exists in Southern China. The Pescadores group of which Sand Island forms one, where the “Bokhara” struck, consist of 21 inhabited islands.

She was an iron screw three-masted steamer, with a registered tonnage of 2940. 200 persons were on board at the time of the disaster, and of these, no less than 170, including 20 passengers, were drowned. The cruiser “Pallas” searched for the “Bokhara” victims and brought over with her 2 boxes of silver coins and 1 of gold from the wreck.

No substantial progress has been made with the salvage operations owing to the heavy weather, but dynamite has been used with some success in getting at the treasure. If however, the present heavy seas moderate, it is probable that a considerable portion of it will be recovered.

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