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Death toll rises to 434 as river search widens

Zhu Lixin and Cang Wei
Updated: Jun 9,2015 8:01 AM     China Daily

The death toll from the Chinese cruise ship Eastern Star, which capsized on the Yangtze River on June 1, rose to 434 on June 8. Eight people are still missing.

Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang asked rescuers to spare no efforts in searching for the missing. During a meeting on June 7 at the rescue headquarters in Jianli, Hubei province, he urged them “to show respect to the victims and condolences to their families”.

The scope of the search was enlarged from around the site of the ship’s hull to the entire stretch of the lower Yangtze River, as far as the Wusong harbor in Shanghai.

Two bodies were found in the river in Anhui province cities of Anqing and Chizhou on June 7, but later investigation showed they were not connected with the Eastern Star.

More than 3,000 rescuers, including fishermen, and more than 100 ships have participated in search of the Anhui section of the Yangtze.

Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, has sent 42 coast guard boats and 153 workers to search for bodies and personal belongings from the ship along its 1,100-kilometer stretch of the Yangtze River, according to the city’s maritime safety administration.

“We also asked for help from 10 other departments that have boats in Nanjing to join in the search,” said Ren Jingsheng, director of the control center of the administration. “By Monday, no bodies or belongings have been found.”

“We estimate that the missing people are not likely to reach the Yangtze River’s Anhui section or even lower stream,” said Yang Xiaodong, director of Anhui’s Emergency Response Office, adding that they will still not ignore the possibility.

On June 8, 321 relatives of all the 103 Nanjing travelers on the cruise ship had arrived in Jianli. Government workers provide them with medical treatment and psychological counseling.

The Eastern Star was on an 11-day trip along the Yangtze River with 456 people on board when it was hit by a tornado and capsized in the Jianli stretch of the river.

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