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According to Chinese authorities, the death toll from the Eastern Star cruise ship disaster now stands at 396 as emergency workers search the vessel in the Yangtze River.

The Eastern Star capsized in a storm on June 1 and was turned upright in an operation on June 5.

Just 14 of the 456 passengers and crew are known to have survived. More than 40 are still missing.

The tragedy looks set to be China’s worst shipping disaster in more than 60 years of Communist rule.

Hooks were welded onto the ship and a net stretched around the entire structure in order to lift it by crane.

Most of the bodies retrieved were inside the vessel. State television says the focus of the recovery operation is the top and bottom decks of the ship.Eastern Star cruise ship disaster Yngtze River

Officials said there had been no further signs of life inside the ship, Xinhua news agency reports.

President Xi Jinping promised a thorough investigation into the cause of the disaster, after angry relatives protested at the scene.

Authorities tightly controlled access to the site, leading family members and journalists to complain about a lack of information.

Most of the 14 people known to have survived jumped from the ship as it began to sink. Three were rescued by divers from air pockets in the upturned hull.

The cause of the sinking is not yet known, but survivors have spoken of an intense storm which flipped the boat over in minutes.

The captain and chief engineer, who were among those who escaped, have since been detained.

Maritime agency records showed the Eastern Star was investigated for safety violations two years ago. It was held alongside five other vessels in 2013 over safety concerns.

The Eastern Star could become China’s deadliest boat accident since the SS Kiangya sank off Shanghai in 1948, killing somewhere between 2,750 and 4,000 people.

At least 5 people have died and hundreds are missing in China after a cruise ship carrying 458 people capsized on the Yangtze River.

According to officials, 14 people have been rescued, with some found alive inside the upside-down hull of the vessel. Three of them were rescued from inside the upside-down hull of the ship after it was cut open, Xinhua reports.

The boat, the Eastern Star, reportedly sent no emergency signal. The alarm was raised by those who had swum to shore.

The captain and the chief engineer, who both survived, have been detained. They say the boat was caught in a cyclone.

Chinese media quoted them as saying the vessel sank within minutes, while many people were asleep.China Eastern Star cruise ship Yangtze River

Most of those on board were tourists aged around 50 to 80 travelling from the eastern city of Nanjing to Chongqing in the south-west – a journey of at least 930 miles.

The ship sank in the Damazhou waterway section of the Yangtze, where the world’s third longest river reaches depths of about 50ft.

Strong winds and heavy rain have been hampering the rescue efforts. According to the People’s Daily, three bodies were recovered in Yueyang, Hunan province, some 30 miles away from the site of the sinking.

Thousands of soldiers and rescue personnel have been deployed, and a high-powered salvage ship is on the way to pull the boat upright, reported China Central Television (CCTV).

Footage aired on state TV showed divers knocking on the submerged hull with hammers to try to make contact with people believed to be trapped below.

Chinese PM Li Keqiang has arrived at the scene, according to the People’s Daily.

Eastern Star – Dongfangzhixing in Chinese – had been carrying 406 Chinese passengers, five travel agency employees and 47 crew members.

The 76m-long ship weighs 2,200 tons, and could accommodate a maximum of 534 people.

The boat sank at about 21:30 local time on June 1, but rescuers did not reach the vessel until at least two and a half hours later.

CCTV said the vessel was owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation which runs tours to the scenic Three Gorges river canyon area along the Yangtze River.