I literally ran across this perhaps an hour or less before I posted. I evaluated the source..."native," and involved with a book and documentary on the subject. So, that had "weight" for me...speaks the language, has access to other--presumably better--materials which I don't. So, I decided to include this account in my post.
Upon further reflection, though, 2 things now come to mind:
1) Taiping is reliably reported to have repeatedly made the run between Shanghai and Taiwan multiple times before the night of the fateful collision. That's not a river route. Would be pretty odd to be using a river steamer for it, then. One at first imagines the ship was "commandeered" off the river for the trip by desperate refugees, but that is not what happened. The "urgency" of those trying to get aboard stemmed from wanting to leave before the Lunar New Year shut down travel for a spell. That's how/why so many people "found" their way aboard over and above the capacity of the ship
2) Taiping was reported as being a good deal bigger than the coal-carrying vessel which she struck, damaging it so badly it sank in something like 5 minutes. (Taiping herself then went down in roughly another 15 minutes.) Pretty darned big river steamer to be bigger than an ocean going coal carrier...
So, I am having major second thoughts on this woman's claim. There are certainly a fair share of English speaking folks who end up doing poor research on a subject. Native-speaker that she might be, I do not see any reason she might not have done poor research as well. While I did--and still do--give weight to the factors which I mentioned above regarding her qualifications, she still might have reached a bad conclusion. Certainly, after some thought, I find it doesn't entirely add up.