Three more people have been taken onshore after rescuers cut open part of the capsized ship on Tuesday afternoon in the Yangtze River.[Special coverage]
The ship, carrying 458 people, departed from the eastern Chinese city Nanjing and is bound for Chongqing Municipality in southwest China, sank after being caught in a cyclone at around 9:28 p.m. Monday in the Jianli (Hubei Province) section of the Yangtze River.
So far, a total of 15 people have been rescued from the capsized ship, and another five were confirmed dead. Rescuers said there could be more survivors.
Divers who just rescued a 20-year-old man from the ship said it took them a long time to get out due to the ship's complicated structure.
Premier Li Keqiang asked the rescuers to seize every second, battle fatigue and challenge extremes.
Li asked the authorities to update media of the latest progress every hour.
Rescuers are still battling strong winds and downpour to hunt for the missing.
A maritime rescue center in Yueyang reported they received a call from a boat saying they saw two people struggling in the storm on the river at 10: 10 p.m. on Monday. The center immediately sent a patrol boat to assist. The two were rescued at 11:51 p.m. Monday.
The ship measuring 76.5 meters long, 11 meters wide and 3.1 meters deep can carry up to 534 people. Tickets for the cruise cost between 1,098 yuan (177 U.S. dollars) to 2,298 yuan. Each room has air-conditioning, a private bathroom and TV.
Passengers are allowed to visit attractions during the daytime and return in the evening as the ship travels to the next port overnight. The agency arranging the tour marketed it toward senior citizen group travel.
On Monday, tourists visited Chibi, or Red Cliffs, which is a famous ancient battlefield. On Tuesday, if the accident did not happen, the tourists would visit Jingzhou City, which boasts China's best preserved ancient walls.
Families of the passengers in the shipwreck gathered at the travel agency's outlet in Nanjing, which shut its doors on Tuesday, leaving a notice asking people to contact the ship company for more information of those aboard the ship.
A woman surnamed Yuan said her mother-in-law joined the tour along with three of her friends. She heard of the accident via the Internet and came to the agency at 6 a.m., but couldn't find anybody to speak with.
The Nanjing Municipal Tourist Commission has settled the families of shipwreck passengers in a local hotel and is planning to bring them to the rescue scene.