Rescue teams work against time in capsized Chinese ship

Divers pull 85-year-old woman from hull of overturned ship and many passengers could be still alive, state media says

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Chinese rescue teams and drivers are working against time to rescue the passengers trapped in a capsized ship on China’s Yangtze River which was carrying 458 people on board.

A 85-year old woman was pulled from the hull of the ship in the latest rescue effort. State media have said that divers recovered five bodies from the ship on late Monday after it overturned due to a storm.

According to The People’s Daily, a microblog, there were people on board with ages ranging from 3 to more than 80.

Rescue workers on dozens of boats are struggling against strong winds and heavy rain to cut through the hull, State TV footage shows. One thousand armed police and 40 inflatable boats were sent to the scene.  

China’s official Xinhua news agency says that rescuers could hear the pleas of the passengers inside of the upturned hull of the Eastern Star, verifying the microblog’s reports that there are still survivors inside.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered that no efforts be spared in the rescue while Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene, Xinhua also reported.

The captain and the chief engineer - who were among the few rescued - have been detained by the police, the state news agency says.

The Yangtze River navigation administration said that the ship sank quickly without a distress call after it was caught in a sudden tornado.

There were 406 tourists on board along with 47 crew members when the ship overturned within two minutes, The Hubei Daily, another official publication, says.

The Eastern Star, with capacity for more than 500 people, was journeying to southwest China’s Chongqing city from Nanjing, the capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province. The ship sank at around 9:29 pm local time.

TRTWorld and agencies