China to move capsized ship to search for more bodies
Beijing: China’s capsized cruise ship Eastern Star will be moved to allow divers to search for eight missing persons at the site in the mighty Yangtze river.
Only 14 of the 456 passengers on board ill-fated ship survived and search is on for eight more missing persons.
The death toll in the tragedy, China’s worst shipping disaster in 70 years, rose to 434 after two more bodies were found yesterday.
The search and rescue headquarters will move the ship as soon as weather and water movements are favorable, Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang said.
“A glimmer of hope deserves all-out efforts,” he said.
Ministry sources said last week the search for the missing passengers would be extended for nearly 1,300-km along the Yangtze River between Jianli in Hubei Province, where the ship sank, downstream to the Wusong Estuary in Shanghai, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Eastern Star cruise ship, carrying 456 people, was on an 11-day trip when it was overturned by a tornado in Asia’s longest Yangtze River on June 1.
More than 3,400 soldiers, 1,700 paramilitary personnel, together with 149 vessels, 59 machines and a helicopter, were deployed in the rescue mission.
Authorities have attributed the overturning of the ship to sudden, severe winds, but have placed the captain and his first engineer under police custody pending investigation.
The 76.5-metre vessel had been in service for nearly 20 years and can carry up to 534 people. It went through an annual maintenance in late 2014, and was qualified to cruise until April 25, 2016.
The Eastern Star tragedy is China’s worst shipping disaster in more than 60 years of Communist rule.
Anywhere from 2,750 to nearly 4,000 people had died when SS Kiangya capsized off Shanghai in 1948.