Eastern Star Righted, But Relatives call Chinese Govt Negligent
Ship that sank in the Yangtze River with 456 on board righted, relatives blame Chinese Government for negligence.
After rescue efforts have been on for days, the Eastern Star, a ship carrying 456 people which overturned in a freak tornado on Monday night, was pulled out of the Yangtze River and is upright once again. Its deck and cabins clear above the river and its bottom resting on the water, it looks like any other ship.
The ship’s positioning is a step forward in the nightmare that has been playing out for the past few days in China’s Hubei province.
Hundreds of families will soon find closure from the tragedy in which the death toll has risen to 103 and 339 people remain missing according to figures put out by China’s Central Television on Twitter.
Only 14 survivors, one of them the captain, have been found.
As officials struggled to contain public anger over the disaster, an irate relative of two passengers who have been reported missing publicly accused the government of treating its people like enemies.
After frustration over the lack of any information grew among families of the missing, seventy-year-old Xia Yunchen burst into a news briefing with senior officials, screaming and demanding answers.
Is it necessary to treat the common people, one by one, as if you are facing some kind of formidable foe.
– said Xia, whose sister and brother-in-law were aboard the Eastern Star.
Xia, told reporters she wanted to get into the news conference to hear for herself what the government was saying, and to ask for an honest investigation because family members doubted the weather was the real cause of the disaster.
You view the common people as if we are all your enemy. We are tax payers. We support the government. You had better change your notion of this relationship. You are here to serve us. You need to be humane.
– Xia said, before being escorted out of the news briefing
Approximately 1,200 relatives have converged on Jianli county in Hubei province where the disaster happened,
My most important hope in coming here is still the same - to lay eyes on my mother.
– Zhang Junmin
China’s ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s apex of power, ordered local authorities to take measures to help the grieving families and to “earnestly safeguard social stability”.
Rescuers will continue searching for the victims as they bail out water from the ship for the next five to six hours.
– Xu Chengguang, Spokesperson, Transport Ministry
Dozens of relatives gathered in front of the crematorium and demanded to be allowed inside. The gates of the crematorium manned by uniformed police who refused to let them inside and relented only after the arrival of foreign reporters on a government-organised bus tour.
Several relatives have demanded information from the authorities about how the rescued captain and crew members had time to put on life vests but did not sound any alarm, and why the boat did not dock in the storm.
Chinese authorities have pledged that there would be “no cover-up” in the investigation, and the police have detained the captain and chief engineer for questioning, though no details have been provided yet.
More than 200 divers groped over-night through murky water after cutting through the hull, searching every cabin on board, but no more survivors have been found.
The Quint’s prayers are with the bereaved families and with those reported missing.
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