330+ confirmed dead in China ship sinking

2015-06-06 07:30
(Andy Wong, AP)

(Andy Wong, AP)

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Jianli - A total of 331 people had been confirmed dead from a cruise ship that capsized in central China after rescuers lifted the vessel out of the water, state-media said on Saturday.

Just 14 people have been confirmed alive out of the 456 - mostly tourists over the age of 60 - on board when the "Eastern Star" rapidly sunk on the Yangtze river in a storm on Monday.

Partly collapsed

The accident looks likely to be China's worst shipping disaster in nearly 70 years.

As images showed the battered blue and white vessel, a CCTV reporter at the scene said the rescuers' torches were visible inside the ship overnight.

Efforts on Saturday will focus on the upper-level of the ship, which partly collapsed.

Images showed workers in white suits apparently adapted for handling bodies walking on a floating platform next to the Eastern Star.

Rescuers used massive cranes on Thursday night to right the ship at the site of the disaster in Hubei province's Jianli county, after a Chinese transport ministry spokesperson said there was "no possibility of survival," for those left missing.

Weather officials

The cranes began lifting the ship from the site of its capsize on Friday, completing the task within hours.

Reports citing witnesses said the 76.5m and 2 200 ton ship overturned in under a minute and weather officials said a freak tornado hit the area at the time.

The vessel was cited for safety infractions two years ago, according to a notice by the Nanjing maritime bureau, but no further details have been given about the state of the ship.

Read more on:    china  |  china boat disaster

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