Newspaper article International New York Times

Chinese Ship Yields More Bodies ; Investigation of Vessel Begins as Hundreds Gather to Honor Dead

Newspaper article International New York Times

Chinese Ship Yields More Bodies ; Investigation of Vessel Begins as Hundreds Gather to Honor Dead

Article excerpt

Hundreds of rescue workers assembled on the riverbank on Sunday across from the Oriental Star to honor the dead.

Hundreds of rescue workers assembled at the riverbank site of the ferry disaster in central China for a moment of silence in honor of the dead on Sunday, as state media reported that the death toll had risen to 431.

The ceremony marked the seventh day since the ship went down, an important milestone in the traditional Chinese cycle of mourning. Relatives of the dead and missing did the same at another location in Jianli, China, the riverside city in central Hubei Province where the Oriental Star capsized on the night of June 1.

Chinese soldiers and paramilitary police officers have recovered nearly 300 more bodies in recent days, and officials have said that they will continue searching the muddy waters of the Yangtze River for 11 people who remain missing.

On Saturday, a day after enormous cranes righted the overturned ship and lifted its four decks above the water line, officials said that they had completed recovery work in the vessel and started DNA testing to identify the bodies that had been taken to mortuaries in Jianli.

With recovery work complete, the state broadcaster, China Central Television, said investigators would begin examining the ship in an effort to determine the cause of the accident, one of Asia's worst boat disasters in decades.

The boat, carrying 456 passengers and crew members, capsized in a storm, and officials say the ship may have been hit by a tornado. Only 14 people survived, including the ship's captain, who remains in custody.

Many family members have questioned why the captain pushed forward in heavy winds and rain when other vessels in the area dropped anchor to wait out the storm.

Most of the passengers on the 11-day cruise were retirees, and survivors said there was little warning before the ship flipped over. Among the bodies recovered Saturday was that of a 3-year-old girl, found in a fourth-floor cabin, who had been traveling with her grandparents, said Liu Xiaowu, a military commander leading the search efforts. …

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