Yangtze River Disaster: The Oriental Star Has Been Righted, Now The Recovery Mission Begins

As the days have passed since the Oriental Star (also reported as the Eastern Star) cruise ship sank on the Yangtze River in China, the rescue of survivors has slowly turned into a recovery mission. Immediately following the Yangtze River sinking, people were recovered from the ship and voices were still heard beneath the water. However, now the ferry has been uprighted in the Yangtze River, and it is likely there will be no other survivors to add to the meager number of 14 rescued survivors. Among those to survive were the ferry’s captain and chief engineer. It was the captain who alerted authorities to the fact the cruise ship sank due to cyclonic conditions that day on the Yangtze River.

Late on Thursday, Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang, told a press conference that the rescue mission had turned to one of recovery in relation to the Yangtze River disaster. It has been confirmed that, out of the 14 rescued from the Yangtze River, only three were found in air pockets within the submerged vessel, all the other people were recovered from the water surrounding the ship.

“In a situation in which the overall judgment is that there is no chance of people being alive, we could start the work of righting the boat.”

Cruise ship that sank on the Yangtze River in China

Family members are now preparing for the worst as salvage crews tend to the task of recovery. More that 1,200 family members have converged in Jianli where the Oriental Star sank into the Yangtze River. The Chinese president Xi Jinping have asked that people “empathize with the suffering of family members and to do a good job of placating them while maintaining social stability”. Family members are now starting to ask why so many of those rescued from the Oriental Star were crew members, so far no answer has been given to the already grieving relatives. There has also been little news reported as to why the Oriental Star sailed into cyclonic conditions when other ships dropped their anchors.

According to the New York Times, at about 9:20 p.m. on June 1, 2015, the Oriental Star passed a cargo ship, the Changhang Jiangning. This ship, which was carrying automotives at the time, dropped anchor to wait out the storm. The Oriental Star continued down the Yangtze River with its mostly elderly passengers. It is reported that the ship sank at around 9.30 p.m.

While the Chinese media and government have notoriously covered up stories in the past, the government this time around has promised to be open regarding their investigation into the sinking of the Oriental Star into the Yangtze River.

[Image credit: Getty Images / ChinaFotoPress / Stringer / Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua]