The ill-fated Eastern Star cruise ship is moved to berth away from the site where it capsized to ensure navigational safety on the Yangtze River in Jianli city, Central China's Hunan province, June 10, 2015.(Photo: China News Service/Zhang Chang)
A "multitude of first-hand evidence" has been collected by investigators looking into what caused the Yangtze river shipwreck that killed at least 434 people last week, according to a government circular issued on Wednesday.[Special coverage]
Acting under orders from Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council, China's cabinet, set up a 60-strong investigation team on June 2.
The team, headed by Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, is comprised of specialists in meteorology, ship design and manufacturing, shipping safety, IT and law.
It is subdivided into five groups probing meteorological conditions at the time of the Eastern Star's sinking, the structure and retrofitting of the ship, its fitness to sail and sailors' responsibility, and shipping safety supervision on the Yangtze River, among other aspects.
Investigators have interviewed survivors, the captain included, shipping company managers, designers and builders of the Eastern Star, and witnesses from other ships.
IT experts are working to recover video footage and GPS data from devices recovered from the ship after it was hoisted from the water on Friday. The team is hopeful this information will shed light on the ship's route and emergency handling.
Data from satellites, radars and ground-level monitors is informing the investigation into the weather conditions at the time of the sinking.
The investigators have also been combing through the Eastern Star's certificates, design drawings and other engineering papers.
The circular stressed that this is a complex investigation and that the causes of the sinking can only be determined through scrupulous scientific methods and simulation tests. "The conclusion must be scientific and able to stand the test of time," it said.
The Eastern Star was on an 11-day trip along the Yangtze with 456 people onboard when it capsized last Monday night.
Fourteen people survived the disaster. As of Monday, rescuers had retrieved the bodies of 434 victims.