China ferry disaster: Almost 400 bodies found in country's worst maritime disaster in decades

Vessel has now been stabilised and return upright after capsizing on Monday

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The Independent Online

The death toll from China ferry disaster has risen to almost 400, making it China’s worst maritime disaster in more than 60 years.

Chinese emergency teams have recovered 396 bodies so far from the Eastern Star Cruise ship that capsized and plunged to the bottom of the riverbed during a storm on the River Yangtze on Monday.

Only 14 people - out of 456 on board - are believed to have survived the catastrophe. More than 40 individuals are still missing.

Yesterday a rescue operation managed to stabilise the boat and turn it upright. Hundreds more bodies were discovered by divers last night.

Relatives of the passengers, many of who were tourists over 60, have asked why the vessel continued its voyage despite a severe weather warning in the Hubei province and increasingly violent winds.

Both the captain and the first engineer have been held in custody, although there has been no official cause for the accident, with the accident blamed on sudden, severe winds.


Angry relatives yesterday protested near the site of the accident, which is being tightly controlled by authorities who have confirmed they do not expect to find any more survivors.

The 76-metre vessel, travelling from Nanjing to the south-western city of Chongqing, was caught up in the heavy rains that swept across the Yangtze area on Monday evening – killing another 15 people and leaving eight missing.

Additional reporting by Press Association