China ferry disaster: Video shows last moments before boat capsized on Yangtze river in the nation's worst shipping disaster in 70 years

14 rescued, 18 dead and over 400 still missing in China's worst shipping disaster since 1948

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The Independent Online

A darkened, seemingly calm river and sky; then a series of sharp flashes of lightning and stormy winds: footage from China shows the seconds leading up to the capsizing of a ferry carrying 456 people. Only 14 have been rescued so far.

The sinking of the Eastern Star and the confirmed deaths of 18 people makes the tragedy China's worst shipping disaster in almost 70 years and the worst ever on the Yangtze River. In 1948, the Kiangya steamship blew up on the Huangpu river and killed over 1,000 people.

The video, broadcast by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, shows the multi-decked Eastern Star travelling upstream along the Yangtze river at night before it encountered a cyclone and winds of up to 80mph.

All that can be seen of the huge vessel now is a small strip of its hull emerging from the murky, grey waters. 14 people have been rescued but the majority of the 456 people who were on board - most of them elderly tourists - are unaccounted for. CCTV reports that 18 bodies have been pulled from the boat so far.

Reports from state media in China suggest that rescuers heard people yelling from within the hull following the capsizing, with a 65-year-old woman and two men being pulled from the boat on June 2.

 

 

CCTV said more people were being rescued but it is unknown whether they were also found from within the hull. Furthermore, it is not known whether more yelling was hear on June 3, nearly two days after the vessel sunk.

With the new video showing the atrocious weather shortly before the capsizing of the Eastern Star, Huang Delong, a worker on a ferry crossing a few miles upstream from the site of the sinking, explained how the weather turned suddenly on the evening of June 1.

"From about 9 p.m. it began raining extremely hard, then the cyclone hit and the wind was really terrifying," Huang said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has visited the accident site, 110 miles west of the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan. 

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