Monday, 8 June 2015

China completes DNA collection to identify ship dead

China has completed the DNA collection needed to identify the 432 bodies recovered so far from last week's deadly Yangtze boat disaster.

The Eastern Star, mostly carrying elderly tourists, capsized on 1 June near Jianli in Hubei province.

Just 14 of the 456 passengers and crew are known to have survived.

A search is continuing for eight people who remain missing. Authorities have extended the search area to 1,000km (621 miles) downriver. The sinking was the worst maritime disaster China has seen in decades.

DNA matching

Authorities are now planning to collect DNA from family members for matching purposes.

A spokesman for China's public security ministry, Min Jianxiong, told reporters that they expect to finish matching the DNA within the next few days, and added that a number of victims had already been identified.

Meanwhile authorities have begun cremating victims so that they can return their ashes to their families for burial, as per Chinese custom.

The BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says activity has moved from the hollow shell of the capsized cruise ship to a nearby morgue.

Relatives were seen weeping as they arrived at the morgue in Jianli to have one last look at their loved ones before cremation, AP reported.

On Sunday - a week after the disaster took place - many congregated by the shore of the Yangtze to hold mourning ceremonies.

Meanwhile new pictures emerged of the interior of the Eastern Star - known as Dongfangzhixing in Chinese - which was pulled upright on Friday for search operations over the weekend.

Searchers said rooms were "severely ruined" and strewn with debris.

The top floor was crushed and rescuers had to break into rooms using chainsaws, according to Reuters news agency.

Our correspondent says questions still linger as to how the massive ship sank in just a few minutes, without anyone issuing a distress call.

Some in the Chinese state media argue that modifications to the ship's interior made it more difficult for those on board to escape in an emergency.

Others point to the possibility of human error and have questioned the decision to continue sailing in rough weather.

The Chinese authorities arrested the ship's captain and chief engineer, who were among the survivors, but they have not announced plans for a criminal inquiry into the disaster.

The cause of the sinking is not yet known, but survivors have spoken of an intense storm which flipped the boat over in minutes.

Monday 8 June 2015


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