Hundreds of people are missing and at least five are confirmed dead after a passenger ship carrying more than 450 passengers sank in the Yangtze River in southern China.
The state-run Hubei Daily said so far five bodies had been recovered from the ship, in what could be China’s worst boat disaster in years. The official Xinhua News Agency said 12 people of the 458 on board the four-level vessel had been rescued so far, and that a rescue operation was continuing.
There was hope that more survivors would be found, after the People's Daily and state broadcaster CCTV reported that rescuers had heard people banging and calling for help from inside the partially submerged ship, about 12 hours after it went down.
CCTV's footage showed rescuers in orange life vests climbing on top of the upside down hull, with one of them lying down, tapping the ship with a hammer and listening for a response, then gesturing downward. Some of the rescuers held welding gear.
"Rescuers knocked on the ship and received responses," the Hubei Daily said. "Three people were found alive."
Among the survivors who apparently escaped the ship and swam to shore as it went down were the captain and chief engineer. They said that the had been caught in a cyclone and sank quickly. Xinhua later reported that both men had been detained by police for questioning over the sinking.
The boat reportedly did not send out an SOS signal before sinking.