The photo taken by a cell phone shows the search and rescue team starting to right the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star in the section of Jianli on the Yangtze River, central China's Hubei Province, June 4, 2015. The ship will be hoisted by cranes on site capable of lifting the whole vessel and set it upright. (Xinhua/Sun Chengyu)
The search and rescue team started to right the capsized cruise ship on the Yangtze River at 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the Ministry of Transport (MOT).[Special coverage]
The decision was made after the rescue headquarters decided the rescue plan should be moved forward quickly.
The ship will be hoisted by cranes capable of lifting the whole vessel to set it upright. Experts in diving, recovery, relief and ship design experts are at the scene to provide support. The plan is in line with international norms.
Every cabin of the cruise ship will be searched.
The righting of the ship, refloating and follow-up work will be done in a scientific and prudent manner, said the MOT, adding that updates would be published in a "timely, accurate, open and transparent" way.
More people have been brought onboard to join the rescue effort and "we shall not give up as long as there is still hope", said the MOT, adding that the plan included identifying cabins that had the biggest likelihood of survivors still inside.
"We will leave no stone unturned," it said.
Chairing a meeting with members of a State Council work team that is overseeing the rescue operation, Vice Premier Ma Kai said experts had concluded that the "timing was right" to upright the cruise ship.
He urged rescuers to put the people first and to carry out the rescue operations in a scientific, swift and orderly manner.
Xu Chengguang, spokesman with the Ministry of Transport (MOT), said at a press conference on Thursday evening that detection equipment used in recent searches has failed to locate any signs of life.
Xu explained that lifting and uprighting the capsized wreckage would help find the missing "in the shortest possible time" and "protect the dignity of the deceased" as much as possible.
Over 450 people were onboard the Eastern Star when it sank on Monday night after being hit by a tornado in Jianli, Hubei Province. The incident could become China's deadliest shipping accident in almost seven decades. (Updated)