China ship death toll exceeds 400, victims mourned

Officials and rescuers bow in mourning towards the battered boat Sunday. Photo: Weibo

The death toll from a Chinese cruise ship which capsized during a storm in the Yangtze River reached 406 on Sunday, leaving fewer than 40 still missing, as officials and rescuers bowed in mourning towards the battered boat.

Only 14 survivors, one of them the captain, have been found after the ship carrying 456 overturned in a freak tornado on Monday night in Jianli in Hubei province. Most of the passengers were elderly tourists.

The four-storied ship was righted and raised on Friday, allowing rescuers onto it to clear away debris, break down cabin doors and look for the remaining missing.

Sunday marks seven days since the Eastern Star went down, and according to Chinese tradition this is a key date on which to mourn the dead.

State television showed hundreds of rescue workers and government officials standing on the deck of a barge facing the Eastern Star during a three-minute silent tribute to the victims at around 9 am Sunday. They removed their hats and bowed their heads, as surrounding boats sounded their horns.

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