Chinese experts identifying 432 victims of capsized ship
Search efforts for 10 missing continue from central Jianli county downstream Yangtze River to Shanghai’s Wusong estuary

Chinese authorities were matching the DNA of more than 400 victims from a cruise ship that capsized in the Yangtze River with blood samples provided by relatives as the search for missing people continued Monday.

The bodies of 432 passengers and crewmembers from the Dongfangzhixing (Eastern Star) had been recovered as of Sunday night while 10 others remained missing, according to local media.

Of the 456 people onboard the vessel when it was hit by a freak tornado a week ago near Jianli county, central Hubei province, only 14 survivors have been found.

Most of those onboard the multi-decked, 77-meter-long vessel had been retirees on an 11-day trip journey from the eastern city of Nanjing to Chongqing Municipality on the upper reaches of China's longest river.

A young soldier from the southern Guangzhou Military Region Command recounted discovering the body of the youngest passenger, a 3-year-old girl, beside a bed in a cabin Friday night.

"It was so sad," the China Daily quoted 21-year-old Chai Maomao as saying Monday. "I pretended she was just asleep."

Chai also described the exhaustion that had descended upon him after rescue teams recovered more than 50 victims Saturday.

"What I want to do most now is to have a bath and sleep," Chai said.

On Sunday, a mourning ceremony was held along the banks of the Yangtze for the tragic voyage.

Hundreds of relatives of those onboard were joined by more than 500 government officials and rescue team members who removed their hats as all those attending bowed their heads during a three-minute silence.

The wail of ship horns resounded through the air to mark the seventh day of the accident, during which the deceased are traditionally mourned in China.

Candles were lit by the family members of the victims as they threw bouquets of chrysanthemums into the river’s waters.

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

The ministry of transport has instructed water traffic management authorities, shipping companies and boats to cooperate in efforts from Jianli downstream to Shanghai’s Wusong estuary – a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers (more than 621 miles).

Search operations continue with the efforts of over 2,000 rescue workers and 200 vessels.

Before the overturned four-story Eastern Star was righted and hoisted from the water Friday, more than 200 divers had been searching underwater for any survivors in air pockets.

The incident has become China's deadliest shipping accident in nearly seven decades.

China's president and Communist Party leaders have demanded a serious investigation into the cause of the incident.

Last Modified: 2015-06-08 08:41:49
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