China: Ship sinks on Yangtze, hundreds missing


A passenger ship Eastern Star carrying about 450 people sank in the Yangtze River in China in a storm on Monday. According to Reuters Shanghai, about 20 people had been rescued so far.

Rescuers early Tuesday began rescue operation even though there was low visibility due to fog after the Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly ordered that no efforts be spared in rescue work. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was traveling to Hubei province to direct rescue efforts, Xinhua News Agency reported. Other top officials have been dispatched to the scene, including Ma Kai, a vice premier, and Yang Jing, secretary-general of the State Council.

Capable of carrying a maximum of 534 people, the Eastern Star measured 251 feet long and 36 feet wide, CCTV reported. It is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., which focuses on tourism routes in the popular Three Gorges river canyon region.

Late on Monday, the ship sank in a storm, about 50 feet deep in two minutes without any sending out any SOS signal. Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, mainly elderly people, on a tour organised by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members, a state daily said.