Over 390 people have been confirmed dead after a cruise ship capsized in China's central region. It is thought that only a few of the around 450 passengers survived the tragedy.
Some 396 travelers have been confirmed dead after a Chinese cruise ship that sank five days ago was lifted by rescuers, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.
Only 14 people, including the captain and the first engineer, survived the tragedy and were taken into police custody. Rescuers used massive cranes to lift the ship from where it sank. The body of the vessel was raised on Friday, allowing aid workers to search inside.
Most of the 456 passengers on the "Eastern Star," which was sailing on the Yangtze River, were tourists aged over 60. The ship sank rapidly after a storm on Monday in the central Hubei province's Jianli County.
News agency AFP cited reports of eyewitnesses saying the 2,200-ton craft, which was 76.5 meters long, overturned within a minute after a freak tornado hit the area. Other ships in the region dropped anchor after storm warnings, but the "Eastern Star" continued its journey, reports said.
The Chinese state has strictly controlled news of the accident and reporters' access to the site. Relatives of passengers have also clashed with police, accusing authorities of providing information that was "full of untruths."
China's last deadly ship disaster happened in 1999, when a ferry caught fire and capsized off Shandong province, killing around 280 people on board. The country experienced its worst ship tragedy in 1948, when the SS Kiangya sank off Shanghai, killing somewhere between 2,750 and 4,000 people.
mg/bk (Reuters, AP)