Wu Jianqiang. (Photo/cnhubei.com)
Wu Jianqiang, 58, tourist
"I might have died if my wife had not let go of my hands at the last moment," said Wu Jianqiang, who was the first person to call the police after the accident on Monday.[Special coverage]
Wu and his wife, Li Xiuzhen, are from Tianjin. The two were aboard the Eastern Star for a package tour when the ship sank.
According to Wu, the couple was lying in bed holding hands together when the ship tilted. The bed then fell and trapped Li Xiuzhen.
Wu tried to pull his wife out but failed. "Let go!" Li shouted suddenly to Wu.
Shocked by his wife's request, Wu loosened his grip on his wife's hands and was then pushed outside by water. The ship was turned over completely at that moment.
Wu then swam for several minutes before he was saved.
His wife remains unaccounted for.
Three of the 14 survivors recall their experiences of the maritime disaster on the Yangtze River, in which 18 are confirmed dead and hundreds remain missing.
Xie Lin (alias), 52, tourist
Xie Lin never imagined his smoking habit, which his wife often complained about, would someday save his life.
On Monday evening, Xie, on a 12-day package tour with his wife, was invited by other passengers to play cards. But later the game was canceled and Xie decided to go to bed early.
He then went out to the deck for a cigarette since smoking was prohibited inside the cabin. His wife had already fallen asleep.
When he went back about 10 minutes later, the ship began to tilt.
"A huge stream of water propped me up and I couldn't control my body,"Xie recalled, "but I thought to myself that I wanted to see the sky and had to get out."Xie grabbed a life ring as his body struggled to remain above water and put his feet in a plastic bucket. "I thought anything plastic should somehow be buoyant."
Later Xie found another survivor and the two were finally saved by a boat after hours of floating in the cold water and rain.
Xie called his son in Shanghai and told him "your mother is gone".
"The dead are dead and the survivors should go on living and make the most of every day," Xie said. He said he doesn't want to recall the experience any more, not even to his son.