China mourns wreckship victims

Rescuers work in the hull of the upright ship Eastern Star in the section of Jianli on the Yangtze River, central China's Hubei Province, June 7, 2015. Photo: Xinhua

Rescuers and bereaved relatives mourned Sunday for the victims of the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star on the Yangtze River in Central China's Hubei Province, as the death toll rose to 432, with another 10 still missing.

More than 500 rescue workers and government officials at the site bowed their heads during a three-minute silence Sunday, the seventh day since the ship capsized. According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day is a key occasion to mourn the passing of the dead.

Eleven people remain missing. Hu Kaihong, deputy director of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office, told a news conference Sunday that the search is continuing and authorities are matching the DNA of the victims with blood samples provided by their relatives.

Rescuers are still searching along the Yangtze River from Jianli where the ship sank, more than 1,000 km downstream to Shanghai.

The Eastern Star carrying more than 450 people was caught in a tornado and capsized at around 9:28 pm on June 1 in a section of the Yangtze River flowing through Jianli county, Hubei Province. The incident is believed to be China's worst maritime disaster in decades.

Only 14 people, including the captain and the chief engineer, were found alive.

On the riverbank, Guan Yuan, the daughter of a couple lost in the tragedy, held a picture of her parents, allowing them to take a last glimpse of their unfinished trip. The first long trip her parents took after retirement turned out to be their last. "My parents rarely travelled to save money for my education," she said.

On the day before they boarded the ship, her mother sent her an email asking her to hurry her towards marriage, saying how willing she was to look after grandchildren.

Jianli, once virtually unknown, has attracted worldwide attention. In the early morning, more than 1,500 cars with yellow ribbons began to collect families of the victims and rescue workers from hotels or the rescue site. The kindness and support of local people gave some warmth to those in need and in grief.

Zhang Shifeng, with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said on Saturday that the ministry has been deliberating financial compensation for the relatives, stressing that the amount of compensation "depends on different conditions" and will be in accordance with the law.


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