China has formed a special investigation team to find out what caused the cruise ship Eastern Star to capsize in the Yangtze River - killing hundreds - earlier this month, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said on Wednesday. [Special coverage]
The team is composed of officials from the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Civil Affairs, China Meteorological Administration as well as officials from Hubei Province and Chongqing Municipality.
More than 20 experts in the fields of meteorology, ship building, maritime safety, maritime traffic management and law were also invited to join the investigation.
The team has interviewed survivors, crew members, witnesses, travel agents and other people who are linked to the ship. It has so far compiled more than 200 transcripts that include a total of 500,000 words.
SAWS also said it had invited meteorologists from Peking University, Nanjing University, the Chinese Society of Sciences and the China Meteorological Administration to analyze the weather conditions at the time of the disaster.
The team is also going through more than 200 documents, including the Eastern Star's design blueprints and its shipping certificates.
SAWS said on its website that it plans to build models of the ship and run simulations as a variety of factors contributed to the shipwreck.
Chinese leaders have demanded the disaster be "thoroughly" investigated. The Ministry of Transportation also vowed to probe the case and promised there would be "absolutely no cover-up or concealment."
Also on Wednesday, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said more than 92 million yuan ($15.7 million) in compensation will be paid to the relevant parties, including the victims' families.
As of Wednesday morning, rescuers had identified 323 items retrieved from the ship. Authorities said family members can collect these items if they provide proper ID documents.
The Eastern Star capsized in a section of the Yangtze River in Jianli, Hubei Province on June 1 with 456 people on board. As of Wednesday, 434 have been confirmed dead and 14 survived.
On Tuesday, police in Nanjing found a body floating on the Yangtze River.
The body has been sent to a forensic lab for DNA identification. It is as yet unknown whether the body belongs to one of the disaster victims.