Last updated: 10:03 AM ET, Fri June 05 2015

Crews Raise Eastern Star from Yangtze River, Recovery Efforts Continue

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | June 05, 2015

Crews Raise Eastern Star from Yangtze River, Recovery Efforts Continue

Photo via Twitter

After days of searching for survivors in the wake of Monday's capsizing of the Eastern Star river cruise ship in China's Yangtze River, rescue efforts have now shifted to recovering the bodies of the nearly 340 people still missing.

According to the Associated Press, 103 bodies have been retrieved so far, but efforts have been sped up since crews were able to flip the vessel right-side-up on Friday morning using a crane and more than four dozen chains that were attached overnight.

The survivor count still stands at 14, only three of whom were pulled from the ship by rescuers. 

The ship, which was headed from Nanjing to Chongqing carrying more than 450 people including a majority of retired passengers in their 60s and 70s, capsized suddenly around 9:30 p.m. local time on Monday in China's Hubei province. 

Authorities are blaming poor weather conditions for the incident, but are still investigating. 

The ship's surviving captain and first engineer, who are in police custody, reported that the Eastern Star was struck by a cyclone carrying winds as fast as 80 mph, per weather authorities, leaving those on board with little time to react.

Nonetheless, the AP reports that some of the passengers' relatives are questioning whether the ship should have continued on its course in spite of weather warnings. Adding to the controversy, earlier this week a Chinese maritime safety report revealed that the Eastern Star was cited for safety violations during a 2013 inspection. However, details surrounding the violations remain unclear.

Depending on whether rescuers find anymore survivors, the Eastern Star tragedy could go down as China's worst maritime disaster since 1948. 

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