Hundreds of elderly passengers dead as ferry capsizesby ASC Staff on Jun 2, 2015
A ferry carrying more than 450 elderly tourists has capsized in rough weather on the Yangtze River in China, leaving passengers trapped in the upturned hull, with officials warning the death toll is likely to be in the hundreds.
Rescuers fought bad weather Tuesday as they tried to cling to the hull of the four-deck river ferry, while also searching for sounds of people alive and trapped in the hull. Rescuers used hammers to knock on different parts of the hull, listening for a response.
The crude means of rescue is the only option currently available to rescue authorities as rough weather makes diving into the vessel extremely dangerous.
Isolated scuffles with officials broke out in the city of Shanghai, where many of those on board booked their trips, according to the state Xinhua news agency.
Family members of those trapped aboard the upturned ferry accuse the government of not doing enough to rescue them, and have told international media outlets that there is an unacceptable lack of information about how the vessel sank and what hope there is for the rescue of their loved ones.
Xinhua reports that the Eastern Star ferry sank in 15m of water within sight of land in a storm on Monday and while there have been reports of voices calling for help from within the ship, officials are unable to say how many of the 450 on-board at the time of the sinking remain alive.
A man and 65-year-old woman were pulled from the ship on Tuesday, with a further dozen having been rescued late Monday.
There are still 430 unaccounted for and maritime observers have warned that the loss of life is likely to be much greater than the sinking of a ferry in South Korea in April 2014 that killed 304 people, most of them children on a school trip.
While rescue operations are ongoing, the Eastern Star sinking is expected to be China’s worst maritime disaster in 70 years.
According to the People’s Daily, the youngest passenger on-board is just three years old.