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Chinese Cruise Ship Death Toll Rises To 75

There are still only 14 survivors of Monday's cruise ship disaster in China's Yangtze River. Rescue teams have now cut holes through parts of the overturned ship's hull, but they've found no more survivors from the ship that carried more than 450 people.

Cutting into the Eastern Star's hull is part of a desperate effort to find people who might have lived through the capsizing — which officials believe may have trapped air pockets in the ship's interior. But the move also brings risk, as it could release air that's been providing the ship with buoyancy.

From Jianli in Central China, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports:

"More than 360 people remain missing from the accident Monday night and are widely thought to be dead. So far, there are 14 survivors, including the captain, who is in police custody.

"Chinese state media says the captain continued upstream in heavy rain while other ships anchored for safety nearby.

"Officials say a rare tornado came through and turned over the cruise ship. The captain did not send a distress signal before leaving the boat.

"Family members have criticized the government for not releasing more information about the accident – and they scuffled with police in Shanghai and Nanjing as they demand help to travel to the site."

State-run Xinhua news agency says that the Three Gorges Dam, which is up-river from the wreck, has cut its flow of water "by more than half, from 17,200 cubic meters per second to just 7,000 cubic meters."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.