Luxury cruise liner Dongfangzhixing, or the Eastern Star, capsized with 456 passengers and crew on board in the Yangtze River in China on Monday, June 1, 2015.
Chinese rescuers have recovered 432 bodies from the cruise ship, but 10 people are still missing.
Among the 14 survivors were the captain and chief engineer, who were taken into police custody. Family members of the victims question whether they and other crew members did everything they could to save the passengers.
Many of the passengers were retirees on a cruise from Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing.
“It is sad that these people were just looking for a good time, and then their ship capsized. I hope they find more survivors,” said freshman Andy Lombard.
Rescue teams cut three holes in the capsized ship on Thursday, June 4, 2015 in hopes of finding more survivors. The rescuers were hampered by bad weather, and there were fears that more air could escape, causing the ship to sink further.
Rescuers found no new survivors and no signs of life have been detected in the newly opened areas of the ship, said China’s vice transportation minister He Jianzhong, who went to the scene to direct the search and rescue operations.
Bad weather on Thursday, June 4, 2015 forced the rescue teams to temporarily abandon their attempt to cut a rectangular hole in the bottom of the turned ship to let in oxygen and allow divers to get inside.
Divers managed to attach steel cables to the hull and use cranes to support the unstable ship. Rescuers are worried that if any more air in the hull escapes, it could cause the ship to lose buoyancy and sink further.
Later, massive cranes lifted the overturned ship upright. Now search crews can walk the decks and open new spaces.
The rescue and recovery operations involves about 150 other ships, 59 machines, 3,400 Chinese troops and 1,700 paramilitary personnel.
There are speculations about the cause of the incident. The ship capsized around 9:30 p.m. during a storm in the section of the river that flows through Hubei’s Jianli County.
The captain and the chief engineer said the ship was caught in a cyclone or tornado.
They said the ship capsized “within one or two minutes” of being trapped in extremely bad weather conditions.
Wang Yangsheng, a senior official with the Yueyang Maritime Rescue Center, said that “the incident happened so fast that the captain did not even have the time to send out a distress signal,” according to the China Daily newspaper.
However, Zhang Zuqiang, a senior official with the China Meteorological Administration, told Beijing News that he was not sure that there had been a cyclone, but that it had been raining heavily at the time of the capsizing.
According to authorities, the ship was not overloaded, and there were enough life vests for the passengers. New details are set to come as the captain and engineer are interviewed by police while in custody.
The ship and cruise line have a history of safety issues. According to records from a maritime agency, the capsized ship was cited for safety violations two years ago.
“It would be even more terrible if the capsizing happened because of the prior safety issues because then the capsizing could have been prevented,” said freshman Nick Depalma.
According to a report on the city Maritime Safety website, authorities in Nanjing held the ship and five other Yangtze cruise vessels after it found them violating standards during a safety inspection campaign in 2013, but it did not specify the violations.
How do you think the ship capsized?