passenger boat
Rescue workers search after a ship sank at the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015. The passenger ship carrying 458 people sank on Monday night, Xinhua news agency said, citing the Yangtze River navigation administration. Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A passenger ship carrying 458 people, many elderly tourists, sank in China's Yangtze River on Monday night during a storm and only 12 people had been rescued so far, state media said.

Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

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 rapidly after being caught in what it said was a cyclone.

Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, on a tour organized by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members, the People's Daily said on its microblog.

The newspaper said the boat had the capacity to carry more than 500 people.

The vessel was heading to southwest China's Chongqing city from Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. It sank at around 9:28 p.m. local time in the Jianli section of the river.

The Yangtze River navigation administration could not be reached for comment.