Rescuers have said they could hear people calling for help through the hull of a four-floor ferry that has capsized in the Yangtze river.
So far, three survivors have been pulled from the cruise ship on China’s Yangtze River, after it capsized with 458 people on board last night.
At least 15 people are known to have survived the incident, with some having to swim to shore, while five others have been confirmed dead. More than 50 boats and 3,000 people have been involved in the search effort.
Over 400 people are still reported missing and feared dead.
The Eastern Star's captain and chief engineer have been taken into custody, according to Chinese state media.
Divers managed to find a 65-year-old woman and a man who had been trapped - they spent time teaching the two to use breathing apparatus before bringing the two to safety.
At least 6 inches of rain had fallen in the region over the past 24 hours, with winds reaching 80 mph (130 kph) during the accident.
Relatives, gathered in Shanghai, have began to question whether the captain did enough to keep passengers safe and demanded answers from local officials requiring police assistance.
Rescue efforts were made more difficult after the ship drifted 3 kilometres downstream, with choppy waters slowing progress.
In pictures: China ferry disaster
In pictures: China ferry disaster
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A woman is helped after being pulled out by divers from a sunken ship in Jianli, Hubei province
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A woman is helped as she is sent to hospital after being pulled out by a diver from the sunken ship in Jianli, Hubei province
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Rescuers work on the overturned passenger ship, which capsizes on Yangtze River, Hubei Province
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Relatives of passengers on the ship that sank at Jianli section of Yangtze River in Hubei province, cry as they wait for news at an arranged hotel, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province
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A man, accompanied by his aunt, grieves for his missing parents outside a closed travel agency which participated in organising the tragic Yangtze River tour, in Shanghai
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Rescue workers search on a sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province
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Chinese rescue teams head out to search for survivors of a passenger ship carrying more than 450 people which sunk in the Yangtze river, triggering a rescue effort hampered by strong winds and heavy rain off Jianli in China's Hubei province
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Rescue workers carry a boat as they conduct a search
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Paramilitary policemen assemble to get ready to travel to Hubei province for rescue operations after a ship sank in the Jianli section of the Yangtze River, at a port in Chongqing
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China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) looks at a map as he discusses with experts on a rescue plan, on his plane en route to the site where a ship sank in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province
State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of orange jacketed workers using a hammer to tap the hull, listening out for a response before gesturing downward.
Another 12 people had swum to shore, before alerting authorities.
According to experts, the fact that the capsized ship continued to drift downstream was a positive sign as there was enough air inside to give it buoyancy that survivors would be able to breathe.
Chi-Mo Park, a professor of naval architecture and ocean engineering at Ulsan University in South Korea said that survival was dependent on “how much space there is inside the vessel”.
On relative, Huang Yan, 49, from Shanghai told local reporters that both her husband and father in-law were on board the ship when it tipped over.
"We want the government to release the name list to see who was on boat," she wept as she told one reporter.
"Why did the captain leave the ship while the passengers were still missing?"
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is reported to be traveling to the accident site and President Xi Jinping has ordered a work team of the State Council, the country's Cabinet, to rush to the site to guide the rescue work.
Additional Reporting by APReuse content