Over 400 feared dead in a tragic ship sinking in China

SansadTV Bureau

File Photo ( PTI )

Hopes are fading fast of finding more survivors from the cruise ship which capsized early this week in China’s Yangtze river. The ship was carrying 456 people including the crew members. Most of the passengers in the four-storey vessel were middle-aged and elderly holiday makers.

The relatives of the passengers and authorities suffered a set-back early on Saturday morning when a submerged remnant of the ship, the hull, was lifted up on the surface.

The ship named Dongfangzhixing or Eastern Star was headed from Nanjing to Chongqing when it sank at around 9:28 pm on Monday night. Chinese authorities have claimed that the ship was caught in a heavy sea storm.

Soon after it was hit by the freak tornado, the authorities have been trying hard to trace as many survivors as possible but they were able to locate and pull out only 14 survivors. There has since been no sign of any surviving member from the cruise ship. According to the survivors, the authority told that the ship sank “within two minutes”.

According to the local press reports, 26 more bodies were pulled out of the deep waters, taking an official toll at 103 deaths. The rescue authorities have now claimed that chances of finding any more survivors is very slim.

“In a situation in which the overall judgement is that there is no chance of people being alive, we could start the work of righting the boat,” Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang told the local press.

The incident had already been described as China’s worst maritime tragedy in 70 years. Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered an “all-out rescue efforts” while Premier Li Keqiang too had ordered the formation of a work team from the State Council, China’s Cabinet, to direct search and rescue work.

However, the Chinese authorities are struggling with another crucial issue of pacifying the public fury. There were reports of clashes between the relatives of the people on board the ill-fated ship and the police officials. Some of the angry relatives and kins of the passengers even accused the government of not doing enough.

“Is it necessary to treat the common people, one by one, as if you are facing some kind of formidable foe?” said a 70- year-old woman, whose sister and brother-in-law was aboard the Eastern Star.