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Vessel righted by disaster teams in Yangtze River

Time:2016-06-03   source:


Top-deck cabins poked out of the Yangtze River on Friday morning as disaster teams righted the capsized Eastern Star to speed up the search for more than 330 people still missing.

Divers found more bodies as they worked on Thursday night to attach iron chains to the vessel, bringing the number of bodies found to 103.

The operation to right the ship began late on Thursday, shifting the focus from finding survivors. The vessel capsized on Monday night on the Jianli section of the Yangtze in Hubei province after running into a severe storm.





At about 7:30 am, the port side of the ship emerged from the water and the Chinese characters for Eastern Star could be seen on the hull. Most of the deck had been pulled clear of the river by the afternoon.

At 9:05 am, the top-deck cabins were poking out of the water. The ship had been fully righted by the afternoon and rescue teams boarded it to carry out a search.

Dense fog and a rocky riverbed increased the difficulty of lifting, which involved two 500-ton cranes.

A huge net was placed near the cranes and another one was positioned 500 meters downstream to catch any bodies. Two smaller cranes were also on hand and vessels were prevented from entering the area.

Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang said oil leaking from the ship was detected in the river and efforts were being made to contain it.

The next step was to drain the water inside before salvaging the ship, while also finding and identifying bodies, Xu told a news conference.

On Friday, Jiang Zhao, a representative of Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp, which owns Eastern Star, apologized to the public.

The Eastern Star, carrying mainly elderly tourists, was on an 11-day trip along the Yangtze from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to Chongqing with 456 people onboard. Only 14 have been found alive so far.

On Thursday, 150 cab drivers in Jianli tied yellow silk ribbons - a symbol of prayer - to their vehicles and gave passengers' family members free rides. Many local people offered free food and accommodations for victims' relatives and rescuers.

Feng Kaimin, a 53-year-old local factory worker, teamed up with volunteers to patrol the river and found five bodies.

June 6, 2015

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