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China: Ship with Hundreds On Board Sinks in Yangtze River

  • VOA News

Rescue workers search on a sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015.

Rescue workers search on a sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015.

China says a passenger ship traveling the Yangtze River with more than 450 people on board sank Monday night during a storm in the Hubei region of central China.

The Xinhua news agency says only 20 people have been rescued as of early Tuesday. One body has been recovered. Heavy winds and rain are hampering efforts to find others.

Many of the passengers are believed to be trapped inside the capsized ship. Rescuers heard a response after knocking on the bottom of the vessel, which has emerged from the water, according to the People's Daily newspaper.

The cause of the accident is not clear. The vessel was headed from Nanjing to Chongqing city in southwest China when it sank quickly during what were described as cyclone conditions.

Premier Li Keqiang is personally overseeing rescue efforts, and early Tuesday was headed to the rescue site with a work team from the State Council, according to Xinhua.

President Xi Jinping has demanded an "all-out" effort to rescue the passengers, most of whom are believed to be between 50 and 80 years old, according to state media reports.

China's state broadcaster, CCTV, reported that the ship is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., which runs tours in the region of the Three Gorges dam. It said the vessel was capable of holding up to 534 people.

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