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Death Toll Rises to 431 in China Ship Disaster, 11 Missing

by Reuters /  / Updated 

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The death toll from a Chinese cruise ship which capsized on the Yangtze River has reached 431, with 11 still missing, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

Only 14 survivors, one of them the captain, have been found after the ship carrying 456 overturned in a freak tornado on Monday night in Jianli in Hubei province. Most of the passengers were elderly tourists.

The four-storied ship was righted and raised on Friday, allowing rescuers onto it to clear away debris, break down cabin doors and look for the remaining missing. The river is being swept to as far away as Shanghai looking for the missing.

Sunday marks seven days since the Eastern Star went down, and according to Chinese tradition this a key date on which to mourn the dead.

State television showed rescue workers and government officials standing on a barge facing the Eastern Star, removing their hats and bowing their heads, as surrounding boats sounded their horns.

Police have detained the captain and chief engineer for questioning as part of the investigation. An initial probe found the ship was not overloaded and had enough life vests on board.

The disaster has now caused a higher toll than the sinking of a ferry in South Korea in April 2014 that killed 304 people, most of them children on a school trip. It is China's worst shipping catastrophe in seven decades.

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