Beijing, June 2 (IANS/EFE) A passenger ship, carrying more than 450 people, capsized in China’s Yangtze River late Monday night after it was caught in a cyclonic storm, authorities said adding that barely a score of people had been rescued by Tuesday.
Of the 20 people rescued, five later succumbed in hospital, Chinese official media said adding that rescue teams attempted to enter the capsized boat from where voices and sounds have been heard.
The ship, named Dongfangzhixing, or Eastern Star, sank at around 9.30 p.m. on Monday in the Jianli — Hubei province — section of the Yangtze River, Xinhua reported, citing the river navigation administration.
A total of 20 people had been rescued by Tuesday off the passenger ship that carried 458 people — including 47 crew members, authorities said.
Chinese official media said five of the rescued passengers later died, while more than 400 continue to be reported missing as rescue teams attempted to enter the capsized boat from where voices and sounds have been heard.
The vessel — belonging to a shipping company in Chongqing — was heading to Chongqing city from Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.
Among the survivors of the occupants of the boat were the captain and the chief engineer, according to the official newspaper People’s Daily.
Most people aboard the ship were tourists from eastern China aged between 50 and 80 years.
The youngest passenger was a three-year-old child, reported newspaper Oriental Vanguard newspaper.
Rescue teams, including divers and a comprehensive police team equipped with helicopters and zodiac boats continued searching for more survivors hours after the boat sank.
Chinese state media released images showing rescue workers on the keel of the sunken ship, protruding from the water surface, to determine from where the calls of possible survivors were coming.
Bad weather including fierce storm and lack of light made rescue operations difficult until Tuesday morning making these hours crucial in intensifying the search for survivors.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang reached the area to coordinate emergency tasks along with Deputy Prime Minister Ma Kai and Minister of State Yang Jing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also gave orders to maximise rescue operations.