China mourns Yangtze shipwreck victims as search continues

Updated: 2015-06-07 19:19


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JIANLI, Hubei - Ship horns wailed as hundreds of people gathered in the drizzle Sunday to mourn the victims of the Eastern Star disaster.

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 with the loss of more than 430 souls. According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day is a key occasion to mourn the passing of the dead.

At around 9 am, following an announcement from Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang, rescue workers stopped what they were doing and removed their hats to face the salvaged vessel.

They set up a table with candles and chrysanthemums on the large crane vessel that dragged the ship from its muddy grave Thursday night.

"We are all here with families of victims to go through the pain of losing their loved ones with them," rescue diver Guan Dong said.

Families of the victims prayed for their loved ones on the riverbank or in their hotels.

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.

"I wish this was a nightmare, but nothing happens when I wake up," Guan said.

On the riverbank, relatives of the victims lit candles, threw bouquets of chrysanthemums into the river, and called out the names of the lost.

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