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Chinese ferry with 458 aboard sinks in storm, 12 rescued

Chinese ferry with 458 aboard sinks in storm, 12 rescued

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered that no efforts be spared in rescue work and Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

A passenger ship carrying 458 people, many elderly Chinese tourists, sank in the Yangtze River on Monday night during a storm and only 12 people had been rescued so far, state media said, in what could be one of China's worst disasters for years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered that no efforts be spared in rescue work and Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Xinhua, citing the Yangtze River navigation administration, said those rescued from the Eastern Star included the ship's captain and engineer, who said the vessel sank rapidly after being caught in what it said was a cyclone.

The official Hubei Daily said the ship had capsized and that the hull of the stricken vessel was still visible in the river, where the water was about 15 metres (50 feet) deep.

Weather forecasts said heavy rain was expected on Tuesday, making the job for rescuers more difficult. Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, on a tour organised by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members, the People's Daily said on its microblog.

The newspaper said the boat had the capacity to carry more than 500 people.

The vessel was heading to southwest China's Chongqing city from Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. It sank at around 9:28 p.m. local time in the Jianli section of the river.

The Hubei Daily also said the Eastern Star was owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation, which runs tours along the Three Gorges area along the Yangtze river.

The company has been operating since 1967, it said.


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