Reports from several news sources report that a Chinese cruise ship has capsized and sunk on the Yangtze River in the midst of a storm. 458 people were aboard, at least eight have been rescuced and amongst which were the captain and chief engineer (who are under arrest) were among the 8-12 people reported rescued (note: there are different reports running around now). The ship sank within minutes supposedly due to a storm and no SOS was sent out. Some of the people that escaped first notified the authorities about the ship (cite).
According to Reuters:
. . . Some passengers are still alive inside the hull of a passenger ship carrying 458 people, many of them elderly Chinese tourists (cite)
Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, on a tour organized by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members.
CCP officials have acted quickly, sending many officials and men to the scene, if nothing else to avoid the blowback that has plagued the Korean Government, however much of this already is an erie echo of the Sewol tradgedy:
The accident is certain to catalyze widespread public calls for investigations into both the company and into the government officials who oversee safety regulations and boat traffic along the Yangtze. Ordinary Chinese believe corruption among local officials is rampant, and the Communist Party has made rooting out corruption a priority. (cite)
A large salvage ship has already been dispatched already to try to pull the ship upright in about 17 meters of water and there is a report of workers attempting to cut through the hull of the ship with a blowtorch.
State media said local Hubei law enforcement had mustered 40 inflatable boats for the rescue effort, while more than 1,000 central government law-enforcement officials had been dispatched to the site. (cite)
Considering the concerted attempts at controlling media reportage from within the PRC, it remains to be seen just what happened since there is little released at this point and it is still uncertain just how many people have survived this tragic accident. According to one twitter account:
. . . Non-swimmer Zhang Hui survived after floating in darkness for 10 hours . . .
A few more details have emerged about the extraordinary survival story of tour guide Zhang Hui. He owes his life to a life jacket and a branch after surviving in the water for 10 hours despite not being able to swim. He told Xinhua agency that he scrambled out of a window in torrential rain clutching a life jacket. “Wave after wave crashed over me; I swallowed a lot of water,” Reuters quoted him telling Xinhua. He said that he was unable to flag down passing ships and finally struggled ashore as dawn broke holding onto a branch. (cite)
which implies that least several hours passed before rescue efforts were made.
Addendum: June 4, 2015
This is sounding more and more like the Sewol tragedy:
In an interview, Yan Zhiguo, a director of the company that owns the ship, acknowledged that the hull of the Oriental Star was modified in 1997, an adjustment that could have altered its center of gravity and made it more susceptible to tilting over. And a former member of the ship’s crew said that its furniture was not bolted down, allowing weight on the ship to shift more easily in rough waters and making it more vulnerable to capsizing.
The Oriental Star was one of six vessels cited in 2013 for unspecified violations as part of an effort to improve the safety of ships on the Yangtze River, according to a document on the website of the Jiangsu Maritime Safety Administration. (cite)