Update: The number of bodies retrieved in the Yangtze River disaster has risen to 396, according to CNN. This means there are still 46 bodies to be accounted for.
The original article continues below.
At least 331 bodies have been recovered from the capsized Eastern Star (previously reported as the Oriental Star). The ship was righted on Friday after it capsized and sank into the Yangtze River on Monday, June 1, 2015. While reports from Chinese state media have varied today in relation to how many bodies have been recovered, it seems at least 331 bodies have been recovered from the murky depths of the Yangtze River in China. This should bring some much needed closure to many of the families that are situated nearby, waiting for news on their loved ones.
The Eastern Star sank during cyclonic conditions on Monday, and many of the passengers on board were elderly. A few people were retrieved quickly after the Yangtze River disaster and sounds were heard on the ship, which had rolled over in the river but was partially exposed due to that section of the Yangtze River being around 15 meters deep (approximately 49 feet). However, after a 21-year-old sailor and 65-year-old woman were retrieved from the water on Tuesday, no other people were rescued.
According to CNN, it took thousands of soldiers, 50 divers, and huge floating cranes to right the capsized Eastern Star. While the damage to the ship can be seen below, it is likely the Eastern Star will be repaired and reused due to the fact it can still freely float after the disaster.
— CCTVNEWS (@cctvnews) June 5, 2015
Once the Eastern Star has been drained, searchers will travel the length of the ship, cabin to cabin, searching for the remaining victims of the Yangtze River disaster. While the death toll has been significant, there is now also concern in relation to the environmental damage the leaking oil will cause to the Yangtze River.
There is still little information as to what caused the Eastern Star to sink into the Yangtze River other than what was reported by the captain, who claims they hit cyclonic conditions. However, satellite images from the Transport Ministry are now showing the Eastern Star suddenly changed direction a few minutes before it sank. Considering it passed a cargo ship called the Changhang Jiangning just 10 minutes before it sank, it looks like the change of direction occurred not long after these ships crossed paths.
Meanwhile, Japan Times posted a heartbreaking story about Zhang Jianwei, a grumpy husband who refused to go on a cruise that day along the Yangtze River. As a result of this, his 7-year old granddaughter stayed behind as well. His wife and 22 other neighbors still went on the cruise — after all, it was to celebrate her birthday. All are considered dead now.
“So you see. I saved two lives. But I lost a wife, my son lost a mother and his daughter lost a grandmother.”
Jianwei spoke to his wife around 9 p.m. In just under 30 minutes later, the Eastern Star hit trouble and then sank into the Yangtze River. The sinking of the Eastern Star is now considered China’s deadliest boating accident in over 70 years.
[Image credits: CCTV/Twitter / Getty Images / ChinaFotoPress / Stringer]