Rescuers right ship to speed up recovery

Updated: 2015-06-05 11:43


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Rescuers right ship to speed up recovery

The search and rescue team has righted the capsized cruise ship in the Yangtze River on Friday morning. [Photo by Chen Zhuo/for China Daily]

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JIANLI, China - Top-deck cabins poked out of the water from a capsized river cruise ship on the Yangtze on Friday after disaster teams righted the vessel to quicken the search for more than 340 victims still missing.

A total of 97 bodies have been found since Monday night's sudden capsizing in a severe storm. The operation to right the Eastern Star started late Thursday and shifted the focus from finding survivors to retrieving bodies. State broadcaster CCTV announced Friday morning that the boat had been righted, and that teams would still try to lift the vessel even though the water inside it was weighing it down.

Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang said earlier that the operation would involve divers putting steel bars underneath the ship, which would then be lifted by two 500-ton cranes. A huge net was placed near the cranes and another one a few meters (yards) downstream to catch any bodies.

Two smaller cranes were also on site and boats were stopped from entering the area.

Authorities say 14 people survived the disaster, some by jumping from the ship during the early moments and swimming or drifting ashore. Three of them were pulled by divers from air pockets inside the overturned hull Tuesday after rescuers heard yells for help coming from inside.

Xu told a news conference that no further signs of life had been found and the chance of finding anyone else alive was "very slim."

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