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Rescue crews race to find survivors in Chinese ferry sinking

In a desperate race to find survivors, Chinese rescuers have worked through the night to find more than 400 passengers still missing from a capsized cruise ship. The ship sank in a storm on the Yangtze River on Monday.

By Tuesday evening, just 14 survivors had been found after the rapid capsizing of the Dongfangzhixing, or "Eastern Star," a day earlier, according to a report from the official Xinhua news agency.

Authorities reported that seven bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, leaving hundreds more still missing, possibly trapped within the ship which apparently sank in a matter of seconds with 458 people on board.

At a meeting late Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang urged divers to keep searching the ship in an "overnight battle" to find more survivors, Xinhua said.

Rescuers pulled at least three survivors from the wreckage Tuesday as fears mounted for the more than 400 still missing.

The vessel was carrying mostly elderly tourists from Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it capsized in China's Hubei Province.

The survivors included the ship's captain and chief engineer, both of whom were taken into police custody, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Families demand answers

Relatives who had gathered in Shanghai, where many of the tourists started their journey by bus, demanded answers from local officials and questioned whether the captain did enough to ensure the passengers' safety.

As heavy rains continued to fall in the area, an Agence France Presse photographer reported more than a dozen ambulances driving away from the rescue area, and at least two body bags apparently containing dead passengers.

Foreign journalists were barred from coming closer than about 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles) from the center of rescue efforts.

According to Xinhua, an investigation by the Transport Ministry had determined the ship was not overloaded and had a sufficient number of life jackets on board.

av/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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