Premier Li Keqiang talks with Zhu Hongmei at the hospital. (Photo/China News Service)
Zhu Hongmei, 65, tourist
When the shipwreck happened, Zhu Honemei, a 67-year-old Nanjing native, was trapped at the bottom of the boat. Later when the ship capsized she luckily had her head above water.
Then Zhu climbed onto a cabinet and found an iron stick. She began to hit the hull with the stick.
She was pulled out of water 17 hours after the accident.
"My husband was also on the ship but I was unable to find him,"Zhu said.
Zhang Hui, 43, tour agency staff member
"The weather suddenly became stormy outside, with strong lightning and heavy rain pouring in from the right side of the ship. Even when we shut the window, we noticed water coming into the cabins," Zhang Hui, one of the tour agency staff members, recalled from a hospital bed on Tuesday in Yueyang, Hunan province, where he was rescued.
Twenty minutes later the ship tilted about 45 degrees, and Zhang said to his colleagues that they were in "deep trouble". Seconds later, the ship began to capsize.
Zhang, who can't swim, immediately reached for a life jacket. By the time he put it on, the cabin window was already above his head and the water level was rising inside the ship. He and his colleague climbed out the window and jumped into the river.
But many others who were on board the cruise ship Eastern Star had no chance to put on life jackets because the ship capsized so quickly, Zhang said.
"I could hear people screaming for help around me," Zhang said.
He started to float on the river, and big waves caused by the storm hit him several times. It was just before dawn when he saw the riverbank. After using the last of his strength to climb onto the shore, he discovered he was in neighboring Hunan province.
"I am alive" is the first thing he said when he called his wife.