China / Society

World saddened by China's Yangtze ship accident

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-03 14:40

World saddened by China's Yangtze ship accident

File photo of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - The world was saddened and many countries and international organizations have sent condolences over what could be the worst shipping disaster in China for nearly seven decades.

More than 450 people were on board the Eastern Star on the Yangtze River when it was sunk by a tornado in Jianli, Hubei Province late Monday night.

As of Tuesday night, 14 people had been rescued, with seven others confirmed dead and about 430 missing.

The accident drew wide international attentions, and many countries and organizations have sent condolences to the Chinese people and expressed hopes for more survivors.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the major loss of life as a result of the passenger ship accident in China.

"The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and also sends his deep sympathies to the Government and people of China. He fervently hopes more survivors will be found," said a statement of Ban's spokesperson.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed shock over the sinking of the cruise ship carrying so many people and prayed for the safety for those still unaccounted for.

"I pray for the safety and well being of those on board," the prime minister said in a series of tweets posted on his Weibo account.

The European Union conveyed its condolences over the sinking of the Chinese passenger ferry through its External Action Service (EEAS).

"Our thoughts go to the families of those who have lost loved ones and our condolences go to the Chinese people. We hope that rescue efforts will be successful in saving those still missing," said an EEAS spokesperson.

Naming it a "terrible tragedy", US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said her country sent its "deepest condolences to China and to the families of the victims" at a regular briefing.

France was "extremely shocked to learn of the sinking," said Romain Nadal, France's foreign ministry spokesperson, adding that "France extends its condolences to the victims' families."

"Our thoughts are also with the families of the hundreds of people who are missing," said Nadal.

"In these tragic circumstances, France assures the Chinese authorities and people of its solidarity," he added.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang rushed to the accident scene on Tuesday morning. He instructed rescuers to "mobilize all resources available, take every possible measure and race against time" in the search and rescue missions.

He also ordered that the flow of water from the Three Gorges Dam on the upper stream of the Yangtze River be controlled to help the rescue work.

Li also called for regular and transparent updates on the rescue and investigation, and said authorities must ensure adequate funding and personnel to conduct the rescue work.

The Eastern Star was carrying 405 passengers, five tour guides, and 46 crew when it was buffeted by a tornado and subsequently sunk in the Jianli section of the Yangtze River.

Most passengers were tourists from Shanghai and its neighboring province of Jiangsu, aged between 3 and 83, with most in their 60s and 70s.

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