Hundreds feared dead after Chinese ship sinks in Yangtze

Hundreds feared dead after Chinese ship sinks in Yangtze
# 02 June 2015 21:52 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Rescuers fought bad weather on Tuesday as they searched for more than 400 people, many of them elderly Chinese tourists, missing after a ship capsized on the Yangtze River in what was likely China's worst shipping disaster in almost 70 years, APA reports quoting Today's Zaman.
Divers and other rescue workers desperately tried to reach five people they found trapped in the upturned hull of the Eastern Star, a fraction of the 458 people state media reported were on board when the ship capsized in a storm late on Monday.
Distraught relatives of some of the passengers scuffled with officials in the city of Shanghai, where many of those on board booked their trips, angry about what they said was a lack of information about their loved ones.
The Xinhua news agency said rescuers could hear people calling for help from inside the ship's hull and television showed rescuers trying to cut through it with an angle grinder.
Divers pulled a man and a 65-year-old woman alive from the capsized four-decked tourist ship, Xinhua said. State media had earlier said the woman was 85.
About another dozen people had been rescued and five bodies recovered, media reported, leaving more than 430 people unaccounted for. Dozens of rescue boats battled wind and rain to reach the ship, which lay upturned in water about 15 meters (50 feet) deep.
The disaster could bring a bigger toll than the sinking of a ferry in South Korea in April 2014 that killed 304 people, most of them children on a school trip.
The People's Daily, which published a passenger manifest on its microblog, said those on board the Eastern Star ranged in age from three to more than 80.
Tour guide Zhang Hui, 43, told Xinhua the capsize happened very fast and he scrambled out a window in torrential rain clutching a life vest as he could not swim.
“Wave after wave crashed over me; I swallowed a lot of water,” Zhang said, adding that he was unable to flag down passing ships and finally struggled ashore as dawn broke holding onto a branch.
President Xi Jinping had ordered that no efforts be spared in the rescue and Premier Li Keqiang went to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, Xinhua said.
About 60 family members gathered outside a travel agency in Shanghai and demanded information.
“I only found out about this on the news while I was at work and I came here,” said 35-year-old Wang Sheng, whose said his mother and father were on board. “I cried all the way here and here I can't find anyone, the door is locked.”
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