|Relatives confront a travel agent who organised the Eastern Star Cruise|
A Chinese river cruiser Eastern Star - launched in 1994 - during a voyage on the inland Yangtze River has overturned during rough weather - some sources suggesting a typhoon hit the vessel - reports say it floated, drifted for 3 kilometres before stranding on a shallow sandbar, hundreds trapped but still alive inside the upturned floating hull.
Rescuers and a team of divers are attempting rescues, using hammers to tap on the outside of the hull to locate people inside, some four hundred and fifty eight passengers and crew on board. Just a handful have been rescued so far. Many of the passengers are elderly and few can swim.
State media outlet Xinhua, citing the Ministry of Transport, is reporting just 12 of the four hundred and fifty eight people on board the river cruise ship had been rescued so far, including a 65 year old woman rescued by divers.
Rescuers can hear passengers surviving in air pockets banging on the inside of the upturned hull. The Captain and the first engineer who both escaped the ship, have been arrested by Chinese authorities.
According to Hubei province’s official blogsite, Ninety seven passengers are from Shanghai and Two Hundred and four from eastern Jiangsu Chinese province. The remaining river cruise passengers included Forty three fromTianjin, Northern China as some from Shandong, Fujian and Anhui. The ship also carried forty seven crew members and 5 tour guides.
Yangtze cruises are popular and a way to see the river’s spectacular gorges. The most popular tours are 3-day river cruises from the city of Chongqing to Yichang City in Hubei province. Sights include the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower plant, upriver from Jianli, where the accident took place. Engineers at the Dam site have been asked to reduce the flow of water to assist the rescue effort, already bodies and debris being washed up along the fast flowing river bank.
Sources: CNS, Reuters, XYang Agency,WSJ
JULIAN BRAY ++44(0)1733 345581, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Operations Expert, Travel / Cruise Industry, EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast COOBE ISDN ++44 (0)1733 345020 (DUAL CODEC) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe Cell: 07944 217476 or iPhone 0743 530 3145 #VENDOR 10476453 http://feeds.feedburner.com/BraysDuckhouseBlog