Fourteen people have been rescued and five were confirmed dead after a passenger ship carrying over 450 people capsized in China's Yangtze River, said Yang Chuantang, minister of transport on Tuesday.[Special coverage]
The ship was bound for Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, from the eastern Chinese city Nanjing. It sank after being caught in a cyclone at around 9:28 p.m. Monday on the Jianli section of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province.
Latest statistics from the Ministry of Transport shows that there were a total of 456 people onboard, including 405 passengers, 46 crew members and five tourist guides.
Three divers found one 21-year-old man in a small compartment Tuesday afternoon, he was given diving apparatus and was able to swim out by himself. The divers said rescue efforts have been complicated by the intricate layout of the vessel, as well as strong wind and heavy rain.
Premier Li Keqiang asked the rescuers to seize every second, battle fatigue and challenge extremes.
He also asked the authorities to update media with progress reports every hour.
A maritime rescue center in Yueyang received a call from a vessel called "Tonggonghua 666", which reported seeing two people struggling in the river at 10:10 p.m. on Monday. The center immediately despatched a patrol boat, which pulled the two from the water at 11:51 p.m.
Li Yongjun, captain of Tonggonghua 666, said: "It was raining so badly that visibility was very bad. Even our radar did not work due to the rain."
"We were not able to save them in such bad weather. I shouted to them 'swim to the shore'," he said.
Relatives of the passengers onboard were gathered at the travel agency's outlet in Nanjing. Its doors remained shut throughout Tuesday, with just a notice asking people to contact the ship company for more information.
One of these relatives, Yuan, said her mother-in-law was on the tour with three of her friends. She heard about the accident on the Internet and despite being at the agency since 6 a.m. had not found anybody to speak with.
The Nanjing Municipal Tourist Commission has placed the relatives of the ships' passengers in a local hotel and will take them to the scene of the incident.
The 76.5-meter ship can carry up to 534 people. Tickets for the cruise cost from 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 (the Red Cliffs), a famous ancient battlefield. On Tuesday, the tourists were scheduled to visit Jingzhou City.