A major rescue effort is under way after a boat carrying 458 passengers capsized on China’s Yangtze River.
According to a Sky news report, the Eastern Star ship is reported to have sunk rapidly at around 9.28pm local time in the Jianli section of the river.
Seven people have managed to swim to shore and a total of 20 have been rescued in what could be one of China’s worst shipping disasters, according to local reports.
Among those on board the ship were 47 crew and 406 tourists aged between 50 to 80 that were on a trip organised by a Shanghai tour group, the paper said. So far five bodies have been recovered.
Those rescued include the ship’s captain and engineer, who said the vessel sank rapidly after being caught in a storm. The two men have been detained by police for questioning, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Dozens of boats are helping in the search for passengers although poor weather is hampering rescue efforts
The ship’s hull is still visible in the river where the water is about 15 metres (50 ft) deep. More than 50 boats and 3,000 people are understood to be involved in the search effort.
Rescue teams seen banging on the upturned hull of the ship with a hammer say they have heard sounds of life coming from within the partially submerged vessel some 12 hours after it capsized.
Chinese broadcaster CCTV said the ship had been carrying 406 Chinese passengers, five travel agency employees and 47 crew.