A search and rescue operation is underway in China after a ship with 458 passengers and crew aboard sinks in the Yangtze river. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION A passenger ship carrying 458 people, many elderly Chinese tourists, sank in the Yangtze River in a storm late on Monday (June 1). Only about 20 had been rescued so far, state media said, in what could be one of China's worst disasters for years. Some passengers are still alive inside the wreck, the microblog of the official People's Daily newspaper said. Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered that no efforts be spared in rescue work, although the official Xinhua news agency said bad weather was making rescue efforts more difficult. Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, Xinhua said on Tuesday (June 2) Xinhua, citing the Yangtze River navigation administration, said those rescued from the Eastern Star included the ship's captain and engineer, who said the vessel sank quickly after being caught in what it said was a cyclone. State radio reported that the ship sank within about two minutes and that no distress call had been issued. The Hubei Daily, another official publication, said the ship had capsized and that the hull of the stricken vessel was still visible in the river, where the water was about 15 metres (50 feet) deep. Weather forecasts said heavy rain was expected on Tuesday. Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, on a tour organised by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members, the People's Daily said. Dozens of vessels are helping in the search and rescue, including fishing boats, Xinhua said. At least 20 divers were also on their way to the scene and about 100 fishing boats were helping in rescue efforts, according to the Hubei Daily.