Families of local tourists on the sunken cruise ship gather at the travel agency to seek for latest information. -- Wang Rongjiang
Many of the people aboard the ill-fated "Eastern Star" had taken a bus from Shanghai to Nanjing for the ship's departure to Chongqing. [Special coverage]
Yesterday, relatives of the passengers gathered at the Shanghai Xiehe Travel Agency in the city's Zhabei District, which had booked many of the trips, and later headed to a government office to seek more information.
The door to the travel agency, however, was locked, with a notice saying the boss had gone to the scene of the tragedy and asking relatives to contact maritime authorities in Hubei Province.
Wang Sheng cried as he told reporters he blamed himself for sending his parents on the trip.
He said he last spoke to them about 5pm on Monday, when they said they were well and told him to take care of himself.
"How I regret that I was not on the ship. They had just started enjoying life after retirement. It's all my fault," he kept repeating.
Cai Beiqin, whose husband's parents were on the ship, said: "They helped take care of my daughter. I don't dare tell her."
Cai said she and her husband had planned to take her in-laws to Beijing in October as they had never been to the capital.
"But now, it is impossible as they could not survive given their age and the rescue time," she said.
Cai Bin, whose 67-year-old mother was on the ship, said: "We are very anxious, and we have a slim hope in our heart."
A group of about a dozen retirees from a Shanghai bus company were on the trip, said Chen Cailian. Among them, were her elder sister and brother-in-law, both 60, and their 6-year-old granddaughter.
"They've traveled a lot together, but only on short trips. This was their first long trip," she said.
Chen said her sister had been sending photos of the journey.
In the last she received, the sister is seen smiling in front of the Xunyang Tower in Jiangxi Province.
"We just want authorities to tell us the latest progress, but we are still waiting," she said.
Huang Yan, 49, a local accountant, wept as she told reporters she believes her husband, 49, and his father, who is in his 70s, were on the boat. But she said she couldn't be sure as she hadn't seen an official passenger list.
"Why did the captain leave the ship while the passengers were still missing?" she said.
"We want the government to release the name list to see who was on the boat."
Zhang Jianwei, whose wife was on the trip with more than 20 neighbors, said she had called him at 9pm on Monday.
"She said she wondered why the ship had not stopped as it was raining a lot and there was a strong wind," he said.