|Benjie Batanes |||Jun 03, 2015 06:03 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters) Rescuers are working around the clock to rescue any survivors among hundreds of passengers still trapped inside a Chinese passenger ship that capsized on the Yangtze River on Monday.
Rescuers are still searching for survivors among hundreds of passengers that are trapped inside a ship that capsized in China's Yangtze River due to a storm.
According to USA Today, the Eastern Star, a passenger ship, was loaded with 458 passengers and crew when tragedy struck on Monday night, June 1. State media sources report that over 400 people are still unaccounted for.
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Local authorities said that at least 18 bodies have been recovered and only 14 passengers have been rescued from the ship so far, according to CNN.
The New York Times reported that the Eastern Star captain Zhang Shunwen and his chief engineer were among the survivors and are being held to answer some questions about the grim accident. The captain claimed that the ship was hit by a "tornado or cyclone" and added that his vessel immediately capsized while most of the passengers were resting or sleeping inside their cabins.
In a press conference broadcasted by CCTV, Chen Shoumin, the military's regional commander, said that the authorities will do whatever it takes to get everyone out of the ship.
Chen recounted to the press how an elderly woman was taught to operate a breathing apparatus by her rescuers before they safely remove her from the ship. Chen credited the woman for her quick instinct and will to survive.
The current has reportedly pushed the capsized ship downstream near the shore. Rescuers are optimistic of recovering more survivors since there might be enough air for them inside the ship.
The Chinese weather bureau has revealed that during the incident, the area was hit by a tornado. China Daily reported that this condition persisted for almost 20 minutes. Reports indicate that the strong winds affected rescue efforts.
Chinese authorities have deployed over 100 vessels and 3,000 rescue personnel including 183 divers to the ongoing rescue effort. The country's air force sent five helicopters to aid in the rescue, according to CCTV.
The Eastern Star is reportedly still carrying about 411 passengers. Most of them are between the ages of 50 and 80, according to state media.
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