• Reuters

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Two dragon boats practicing to race on a river in China have overturned and 17 people drowned, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

Television pictures showed one of the long, narrow boats packed with paddlers going over Saturday on a stretch of a river near the city of Guilin, in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where the current appeared to be strong.

Another dragon boat arrived at the scene, also full of paddlers, and it, too, capsized, the pictures showed.

Xinhua said 57 people had gone into the water and 200 rescuers were sent to help. The rescue effort went on late into the night.

The accident happened where two flows of the river converge, causing a powerful current, the CCTV broadcaster said. Most of those who fell into the river were not wearing life jackets, media reported.

Two people had been detained in connection with the accident, Xinhua said.

Dragon boat racing is popular in various parts of Asia and the Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday in China. This year it falls on June 18.

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