Rescuers extended their search for victims of a Chinese cruise ship sinking to include a vast stretch of the Yangtze river Saturday, as the confirmed death toll rose to 396, marking the country’s worst shipping disaster in nearly 70 years.
With most bodies retrieved from the battered ship, officials widened the search scope to 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) of the Yangtze in the hope of finding 46 people still unaccounted for, state news agency Xinhua said.
Only 14 survivors have been confirmed out of the 456 people — mostly tourists aged over 60 — on board when the “Eastern Star” rapidly sank on China‘s biggest river in a storm on Monday, in the central county of Jianli.
The Ministry of Transport late Saturday ordered water traffic authorities and shipping companies to assist in the hunt, which stretches from Jianli in Hubei province, past the cities of Wuhan and Nanjing, to Shanghai on the east coast.
The death toll jumped by over 200 after rescuers used massive cranes to hoist the vessel out of the water on Friday and began recovering bodies trapped inside.