Rescuers work at the ship sinking site in the Jianli section of the Yangtze River in central China's Hubei Province June 2, 2015. A passenger ship carrying 458 people sunk Monday night in the Yangtze River, China's longest. (Photo/IC)
China has dispatched a 140-member frogman team and five helicopters to help in search and rescue after a passenger ship carrying 456 people sank in the Yangtze River Monday night.[Special coverage]
China has dispatched 140 frogmen and five helicopters to help the search and rescue effort after a passenger ship carrying 456 people sank in the Yangtze River late on Monday night.
The Eastern Star, which left the eastern city of Nanjing on Thursday for Chongqing Municipality on the upper reaches of the river, sank "within one or two minutes" of being caught in freak weather in Jianli, Hubei Province, according to the ship's captain and chief engineer, who both survived.
The Chinese Navy said it had dispatched more than 230 soldiers, led by Donghai Fleet deputy commander Gu Xiangbing, to assist the search and rescue mission.
This includes 140 divers from the navy's Beihai, Donghai and Nanhai fleets, as well as students from the Naval University of Engineering.
A People's Daily report said the divers were equipped with sonar scan devices, underwater screens and cutting machines.
They have already rescued two people, including Chen Shuhan, 21, and an elderly woman, from the upturned hull of the four-deck cruise boat, according to the Navy's official social media account on people.com.
Chen is stable while the elderly woman has been hospitalized, it said.
In addition, five helicopters were dispatched from Beijing, and Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan on Tuesday morning, along with an IL-76 transport plane.
Another three helicopters are waiting for orders to depart from Wuhan.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 14 people had been rescued from the capsized vessel, with five others confirmed dead, according to Yang Chuantang, minister of transport.
The incident could be the worst the country has seen in close to seven decades.