Seychelles President Michel sends condolences to China following sunken ship tragedy
The Seychelles President James Michel. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles President James Michel has sent a message of sympathy to the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the people of China following the sinking of a cruise ship, which capsized on the Yangtze River on Monday night.
“…the Government and the People of the Republic of the Seychelles join me in conveying our deepest condolences and sympathies to you, the People of the People’s Republic of China, and to the affected families, especially those from Jiangsu Province where most of the passengers were from,” said Michel in a letter addressed to the Chinese president, published by the Seychelles foreign affairs ministry this morning.
“Seychelles shares excellent bonds of friendship and fraternity with China and stands in strong solidarity with the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China during these sombre moments. Our thoughts are with China as search and rescue efforts continue.”
The Dongfangzhixing or ‘Eastern Star’ is said to have overturned and sank within minutes due to bad weather late Monday night.
|A survivor (C-green top) is rescued by divers from the Dongfangzhixing or "Eastern Star" vessel which sank in the Yangtze river in Jianli, central China's Hubei province on June 2, 2015. Divers raced to find survivors on June 2 after a Chinese ship sank with more than 450 mainly elderly people in the storm-tossed Yangtze river, raising hopes more people can be found alive. (CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
According to the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, 14 people have been rescued so far and 18 bodies have been recovered while the majority of the 456 people onboard, mostly elderly are still missing.
Rescuers have worked throughout the night to find survivors with their quest described as “a race against time” with just a section of the ship’s hull emerging from the murky waters after the boat sank.
"The river water in the area where the accident happened is quite muddy and there is virtually no visibility," AFP quoted Zhang Jianxin, vice director of China’s transport ministry's rescue department as saying to CCTV.
According to the Chinese broadcaster divers are searching through each of the ship’s 150 compartments while engineers are looking at the possibility of “cutting open the hull in three places or lifting the vessel into an upright position.”
The situation is dimming the hopes of the relatives of the more than 400 people who are still missing.
The Ship’s captain and chief engineer are among the survivors.
According to AFP, both were being questioned by police and have reportedly said the ship was caught in a freak storm.