Death toll rises to 396 after the body of a toddler was found
(CNN) – Soldiers retrieved the body of a 3-year-old girl on the fourth floor of a capsized Chinese cruise ship, adding to a grim, growing toll.
The toddler’s body was among those recovered Saturday after the ship was lifted, said Liu Xiaowu of Guangzhou Military Command.
It brings the total number of bodies found so far to 396, Chinese state media reported. An additional 46 people remain unaccounted for.
The Eastern Star is upright once again, looking almost normal with its bottom resting on the water and its deck and cabins clear above it.
The ship’s positioning Friday was a step forward in the nightmare playing out in the Yangtze River after the Eastern Star capsized Monday night.
Of the 456 people on board, 14 survived. But rescuers have had no luck since Tuesday, the last time two people were pulled out of the water alive.
After going through the submerged, capsized ship for three days, rescuers can now walk its decks and open spaces. Since it has been lifted, the idea is to go cabin by cabin looking for survivors and bodies in every corner.
The rescue and recovery operation involves nearly 150 other ships, 59 machines, 3,400 Chinese troops and 1,700 paramilitary personnel, state news agency Xinhua said.
And as the search continues, questions remain about what happened.
Authorities took the captain and the chief engineer into custody, but have revealed little about what they have said other than that a tornado hit the ship.
It’s unclear why the Eastern Star was the only ship on the busy waterway so badly affected by the storm.
In a statement through a lawyer, the ship’s operator, Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., apologized to the victims’ loved ones, saying the company is cooperating with investigators.
“I have been in deep pain since the start of the incident. I felt extremely sorrowful for all people that perished,” said Jiang Zhao, a lawyer for the Eastern Star’s operator.
“This incident caused irreparable harms to the families of the hundreds. It also caused irreparable harms to the families of our employees who lost their lives. … All my company and I can do is to do everything to work with the search and rescue work, and truthfully cooperate with the investigation.”