As rescue crews raced to recover passengers from a capsized cruise ship in China, investigators Tuesday sought to determine the cause of the catastrophe on the Yangtze River that killed dozens of people. As efforts to find survivors of Monday night's accident continued, a number of captivating images emerged to underscore the severity of the situation, one of the deadliest passenger ship disasters in Asia.
The ship, called the “Eastern Star,” was carrying more than 450 passengers, many of whom were elderly, a factor that could complicate rescue efforts. A member of the rescue crews could be seen tapping a mallet-like instrument on the bottom of the ship -- which was inverted after capsizing -- to see if he could get a response from a potential survivor.
— Houston News (@abc13houston) June 2, 2015
A survivor told the Xinhua news agency the ship ended up capsizing because of a strong storm with heavy rains that allowed water to leak into the windows. Zhang Hui told a fellow passenger, "Looks like we are in trouble," just before the ship capsized, according to Xinhua.
Relatives of the passengers were shown visibly agonizing over the grim prospect of never seeing family members again.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived on the scene and demanded "all-out efforts" to save the lives of passengers, deploying additional rescue teams to assist existing ones, according to Xinhuanet.
Rescue boats were able to pull up right next to the capsized ship to allow rescue crews to climb directly on the Eastern Star's underside to conduct their recovery operation.
The rescue operation started last night after the ship capsized and continued nonstop into Tuesday, at which point just 10 passengers had been found alive.
Members of law enforcement were mobilized Tuesday to offer assistance to rescue and recovery crews.