Darryn Mumphery | Contributing Writer
On the night of June 1 a Chinese ship capsized in the Yangtze River near the town of Jianli. As of today, the death toll is at 406, while only 14 survivors have been found.
The Eastern Star cruise ship carried around 400 passengers and 50 crew members upon its departure. The ship seems to have capsized during a storm while on the Yangtze River, en route to Chongqing. The most current updates on rescue efforts show the number of dead passengers exceeding 400. While most of the passengers were elderly, rescue workers have found the body of a three year old on the ship’s fourth floor. The amount of surviving passengers becomes increasingly discouraging in comparison, having remained at 14 since the initial emergency response took place on Tuesday. 36 people are currently still unaccounted for.
By Wednesday the ship was still overturned and completely submerged in water. Concerned relatives have began to arrive in Jianli. They are hoping for news about their loved ones. The rescue workers have met these family members with resistance, restricting them from the sight of the catastrophe, and giving them minimal information on the status of the ship and its passengers.
As of today the relatives of the passengers are still being denied access to the disaster site. This has triggered frustration and distrust amongst the people gathered in Jianli. Those waiting to hear the fates of their loved ones are growing more and more anxious and have begun to protest as they believe something is being hidden from them. Tom Phillips, a reporter from The Guardian, is currently present in Jianli and has been able to speak with the relatives. One man, whose mother is still unaccounted for in the Eastern Star disaster, reflects the sentiments of the group of relatives in his statement to Phillips.
“If they insist on not letting us in, we might think there could be flaws in their rescue efforts, otherwise, why are they so scared of us, the families, being there?”
The ship has a history of safety violations, and the fact that it was the only ship impacted so severely by the weather has raised questions. The captain and the chief engineer both survived the incident and have been detained. They have provided little explanation for what happened outside of saying a tornado hit the ship. The operator of the ship has been instructed to perform in-depth inspections on all of its other ships.
Early Friday morning rescue workers were able to right the ship, which is still submerged. With the aid of two huge cranes the ship has returned to its upright position. This should allow rescue efforts to see significant progression because the boat is now easier to navigate. Emergency and rescue workers do not have much hope of finding survivors due to the nature of the disaster, but they do hope the change in position will make it easier to find bodies.