Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Yangtze sinking: 77 bodies recovered from capsized Eastern Star cruise ship

Published 04/06/2015

Rescuers at the scene of the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship in Jianli, central China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Rescuers at the scene of the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship in Jianli, central China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Workers prepare a crane to lift upright the capsized cruise ship in the Yangtze River in Jianli county in southern China's Hubei province Thursday, June 4, 2015. Rescuers cut three holes into the overturned hull of the river cruise ship in unsuccessful attempts to find more survivors Thursday. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
Rescue workers carry a body recovered from a capsized cruise ship in the Yangtze River in Jianli county in southern China's Hubei province Thursday, June 4, 2015. Rescuers cut three holes into the overturned hull of the river cruise ship in unsuccessful attempts to find more survivors Thursday. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
TOPSHOTS This photo taken on June 3, 2015 shows rescuers carrying the bodies of the victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship walking on the riverbank in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. Relatives of more than 400 people missing after the cruise ship "Eastern Star" capsized on China's Yangtze river gathered at the disaster site on June 4, as rescuers breached the hull in a last-ditch search for more than 400 people believed trapped inside. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A woman (3rd L), who's father was on the capsized passenger ship carrying more than 450 people which sunk in the Yangtze river triggering a rescue effort hampered by strong winds and heavy rain, arrives at a registration checkpoint for relatives coming into Jianli, in China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. The ship named Dongfangzhixing, or "Eastern Star", was headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank in the Jianli section of the river. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELEJOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
A woman (L) and her husband (L), who's father was on the capsized passenger ship carrying more than 450 people which sunk in the Yangtze river triggering a rescue effort hampered by strong winds and heavy rain, arrive at a registration checkpoint for relatives coming into Jianli in China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. The ship named Dongfangzhixing, or "Eastern Star", was headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank in the Jianli section of the river. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELEJOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 3, 2015 shows rescuers carrying the bodies of the victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship walking on the riverbank in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. Relatives of more than 400 people missing after the cruise ship "Eastern Star" capsized on China's Yangtze river gathered at the disaster site on June 4, as rescuers breached the hull in a last-ditch search for more than 400 people believed trapped inside. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
ZHUJI, CHINA - JUNE 03: (CHINA OUT) Students light candles and pray for victims of the capsized ship Dongfangzhixing at a high school on June 3, 2015 in Zhuji, China. Fourteen people have been rescued and seven are confirmed dead after a passenger ship named Dongfangzhixing (Eastern Star) carrying 458 people sank in the Jianli (Hubei Province) section of the Yangtze River on Monday. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Disaster teams have recovered 77 bodies from the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship in the Yangtze River.

They are now preparing to use cranes to start pulling it upright to quicken the search for more than 360 other victims who could be trapped inside.

The operation to right the Eastern Star shifted the focus from finding survivors more than 72 hours after it overturned to salvaging the vessel and retrieving bodies.

Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang said divers would put steel bars underneath the ship, which would then be lifted by two 500-ton cranes.

A huge net has been placed near the cranes and another one a few metres downstream to catch any bodies.

Two smaller cranes were also on site and boats were stopped from entering the area.

Authorities say 14 people survived Monday night's sudden capsizing in a severe storm, some by jumping from the ship during the early moments and swimming or drifting ashore.

Three of them were pulled by divers from air pockets inside the overturned hull on Tuesday after rescuers heard yells for help coming from inside.

Mr Xu told a news conference that no further signs of life had been found and the chance of finding anyone else alive was "very slim."

It was therefore time to right the ship to speed up rescue and recovery efforts, he said.

Rescuers paying a silent tribute to recovered victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. AFP/Getty Images
Rescuers paying a silent tribute to recovered victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. AFP/Getty Images
Workers prepare a crane to lift upright the capsized cruise ship in the Yangtze River in Jianli county in southern China's Hubei province Thursday, June 4, 2015. Rescuers cut three holes into the overturned hull of the river cruise ship in unsuccessful attempts to find more survivors Thursday. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
Rescue workers carry a body recovered from a capsized cruise ship in the Yangtze River in Jianli county in southern China's Hubei province Thursday, June 4, 2015. Rescuers cut three holes into the overturned hull of the river cruise ship in unsuccessful attempts to find more survivors Thursday. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
TOPSHOTS This photo taken on June 3, 2015 shows rescuers carrying the bodies of the victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship walking on the riverbank in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. Relatives of more than 400 people missing after the cruise ship "Eastern Star" capsized on China's Yangtze river gathered at the disaster site on June 4, as rescuers breached the hull in a last-ditch search for more than 400 people believed trapped inside. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A woman (3rd L), who's father was on the capsized passenger ship carrying more than 450 people which sunk in the Yangtze river triggering a rescue effort hampered by strong winds and heavy rain, arrives at a registration checkpoint for relatives coming into Jianli, in China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. The ship named Dongfangzhixing, or "Eastern Star", was headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank in the Jianli section of the river. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELEJOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
A woman (L) and her husband (L), who's father was on the capsized passenger ship carrying more than 450 people which sunk in the Yangtze river triggering a rescue effort hampered by strong winds and heavy rain, arrive at a registration checkpoint for relatives coming into Jianli in China's Hubei province on June 4, 2015. The ship named Dongfangzhixing, or "Eastern Star", was headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank in the Jianli section of the river. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELEJOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 3, 2015 shows rescuers carrying the bodies of the victims of the capsized Chinese cruise ship walking on the riverbank in Jianli, central China's Hubei province. Relatives of more than 400 people missing after the cruise ship "Eastern Star" capsized on China's Yangtze river gathered at the disaster site on June 4, as rescuers breached the hull in a last-ditch search for more than 400 people believed trapped inside. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
ZHUJI, CHINA - JUNE 03: (CHINA OUT) Students light candles and pray for victims of the capsized ship Dongfangzhixing at a high school on June 3, 2015 in Zhuji, China. Fourteen people have been rescued and seven are confirmed dead after a passenger ship named Dongfangzhixing (Eastern Star) carrying 458 people sank in the Jianli (Hubei Province) section of the Yangtze River on Monday. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Earlier Thursday, rescuers cut three holes into the overturned hull in unsuccessful attempts to find more survivors.

More than 200 divers have worked underwater in three shifts to search the ship's cabins one by one, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Rescuers pulled out dozens of bodies which were taken to Jianli's Rongcheng Crematorium, in Hubei province, where relatives tried to identify them.

Many of the more than 450 people on board the multi-decked, 251ft long Eastern Star were reported to be retirees taking in the scenic vistas of the Yangtze on a cruise from Nanjing to the south-western city of Chongqing.

Press Association

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph