A passenger ship carrying at least 450 people is reported to be missing after it capsized on the Yangtze River in southern China. The authorities have not been able to establish contact with the large number of passengers and the crew members. The ship is reported to have sunk after getting caught in a cyclone.
The ship named Dongfangzhixing or “Eastern Star” was headed from Nanjing to Chongqing when it was reported to have sunk at around 9:28 pm on Monday night. According to Chinese navigation administration officials, the ship was carrying 458 people, including the crew members. The four-level ship was carrying 406 Chinese tourists, mostly in the 50 to 80 years age group, five travel agency workers and 47 crew members.
According to Chinese officials, the ship was overturned after it was hit by a strong cyclone. As per the local reports the ship sank within two minutes after being caught in a cyclone.
“Strong winds on a scale of 12 (up 130 km per hour) had hit the vessel when it was cruising at the Jianli section”, a local newspaper quoted MeT department officials.
The torrid weather has also hit the rescue operations. However, the rescue teams have been able to save 10 people, including the captain and the chief engineer even as strong winds and heavy rains hampered the rescue work.
More than 10 relief ships have also been dispatched to the area with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang himself rushing to the site to oversee the search operation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered “all-out rescue efforts” while Premier Li Keqiang asked a work team from the State Council, China’s Cabinet, to direct search and rescue work.
The Ministry of Transport and departments concerned were ordered to mobilize all resources available to speed up the search and rescue work and the treatment of the rescued people.