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Old 06-01-2015, 11:25 PM
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Default Hundreds feared dead after tour boat sinks in China's Yangtze River


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Hundreds feared dead after tour boat sinks in China's Yangtze River | Fox News

Hundreds were feared dead Tuesday after a Chinese cruise ship carrying 458 people, many of them elderly, sank in the Yangtze River during a storm in the southern part of the country.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported late Tuesday afternoon that only ten people had been rescued, though rescue teams were hearing sounds coming from within the partially submerged ship 12 hours after it went down. It was not immediately clear whether they were indications that any of the missing were still alive.

Footage from the broadcaster showed rescuers in orange life vests climbing on top of the upside down hull, with one of them lying down tapping a hammer and listening for a response, then pointing downward.

Rescue work was underway but low visibility due to fog was hampering the search, CCTV said.

The broadcaster said that one person had been confirmed dead and that the ship, named the Eastern Star, had been carrying 406 Chinese passengers, 47 crew members, and five travel agency employees. The broadcaster said most of the passengers were between 50 and 80 years old.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted the captain and chief engineer, who were both rescued, as saying the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone. The Communist Party-run People's Daily said the ship sank within two minutes.

CCTV reported that seven of the survivors swam to shore and alerted authorities to the sinking.

Chinese media said the vessel was traveling from the city of Nanjing upstream to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank Monday night in Hubei province.

The ship sank in the Damazhou waterway section, where the river is about 50 feet deep, and drifted just under two miles. The Yangtze is the world's third-longest river and sometimes floods during the summer monsoon season.

CCTV video footage of the river showed calm waters Tuesday morning, with dozens of rescue personnel gathered on the shore. Several rescue ships were searching the waters, and divers had been deployed. The broadcaster said rescue personnel were trying to determine whether they could right the sunken ship.

More than 50 boats and 3,000 people were involved in search efforts.

The Eastern Star measured 251 feet long and 36 feet wide and was capable of carrying a maximum of 534 people, CCTV reported. It is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., which focuses on tourism routes in the popular Three Gorges river canyon region. The company could not be reached for comment.

CCTV reported that 6 inches of rain had fallen in the region over the past 24 hours. Local media reported winds reached 80 mph during the accident.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is reported to be traveling to the accident site. Xinhua reported that President Xi Jinping had ordered a work team of the State Council, the country's Cabinet, to rush to the site to guide the rescue work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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