Chinese Cruise Ship Sinks On The Yangtze River While Carrying 458 People, Rescue Teams Look For Survivors
During a storm on Monday night, a Chinese cruise ship capsized on the Yangtze River while carrying 458 people. Twelve hours after the ship sank, roughly just 13 people had been rescued (including the captain and head engineer, reportedly), while most of the boat's passengers were still unaccounted for in the 50-foot waters, said China Central Television (CCTV). Rescue workers, photographed with their ears against the hull, have reportedly heard sounds from within the ship and are attempting to reach people that may be still inside the cabin, according to CNN.
The boat, whose name is translated as "Eastern Star," was a chartered cruise ship on a tour said to have been arranged by a Shanghai travel company, and it was carrying passengers who were mostly between the ages of 50 and 80, CCTV said. A preliminary investigation revealed the ship had adequate life vests given the occupancy, and that it wasn't overloaded. Those rescued said that "the vessel sank quickly after being caught in what it said was a cyclone."
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered every effort be made for a successful recovery effort, and up to 2,100 armed police and soldiers and 150 boats were dispatched to the scene to aid in the search and rescue mission, though apparently, their efforts were hindered by windy and rainy conditions.
As rescue efforts continue into the night, memories of the Sewol disaster are not so distant. The South Korean ferry sank last year after it made a sharp turn, causing it to capsize. Of the 476 people on board, there were just 172 survivors. Captain Lee Joon-seok was sentenced to 36 years in prison for negligence and abandoning passengers in the tragedy. While it is still unclear what exactly caused the Chinese ship to sink, it's worth noting the captain and chief engineer may have been among those rescued, according to Xinhua.
With just a handful of people rescued and hundreds still missing, the Chinese cruise ship sinking could be the worst shipping disaster since the Sewol sank and killed 304 passengers. The situation may be dire and the outlook on Monday's disaster grim, but authorities are hopeful survivors may still be rescued as the capsized boat has since been recovered.