Chongqing Eastern Shipping, Eastern Star sinks in Cyclone on Yangtze River with 456 Passengers – On Monday, June 1, 2015, around 9:38 pm, Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation’s Eastern Star sinks during a Cyclone on the Yangtze River in China, about 110 miles west of the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.
There were 456 people aboard, when the cruise ship was hit by reported 80 mph winds, listed an estimated 45 degrees, then flipped over.
The area had received about six inches of rain in the prior 24 hours with winds reaching 80 mph during the storm. Meteorologist from China said that a tornado flipped the cruise ship. The tornado, rated an EF-1 with wind speeds of 86-100 mph when it struck Eastern Star, was about a half-mile wide (see photos-bottom of page) and lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes. The Eastern Star cruise ship known as MV Dong Fang Zhi Xing in China, 251 feet long and 36 feet wide, was carrying 405 passengers, 5 travel tour agents and a crew of 46 during a, 11-day, 930 mile cruise ship voyage from Nanjing to Chongqing, China.
Rescue efforts were lead by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who was at the scene, included more than 50 rescue ships, 1,000 military personnel, 140 medics and dozens of divers. Divers say efforts to search the ship are slow due to fast current, poor visibility due to muddy water, as well as having to search for bodies by hand. Once a cabin has been searched, a glow stick is left by the cabin window to signal the room has been cleared.
A river barge was pulled along side the Eastern Star. The barge was used as the staging area for rescue operations. Rescue crews worked at cutting a 55cm by 60cm hole in the ship’s hull.
With all passengers and crew remaining inside thought to be dead, on Friday June 5, with only 103 bodies found. the Chinese government ordered the raising of the ship and turning her into an upright position in order to do body recovery. Final death toll is 442.
While a tornado event is the official cause of the sinking, it has been noted by other boat captains and residents of Jianli, a town with a population of around one million citizens, that no other boats, buildings, land, trees or crops at the scene, show any sign of a tornado having been on the ground.