China ship disaster: Despair turns to anger on Yangtze River

  • Relatives of a missing passenger aboard a sunken ship walk on the bank of Yangtze River in Jianli section, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015. 
  • A rescue worker is seen atop the sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 3, 2015. 
  • Paramedics carry a survivor, 21-year-old crew member Chen Shuhan, out of an ambulance at a hospital on June 2, 2015 in Jingzhou, China. 
  • Paramedics carry a survivor, 21-year-old crew member Chen Shuhan, out of an ambulance at a hospital on June 2, 2015 in Jingzhou, China. 
  • Chinese soldiers walk on a river bank near the unseen capsized passenger ship Dongfangzhixing or “Eastern Star” vessel which sank in the Yangtze river in Jianli, central China’s Hubei province on June 2, 2015. 
  • Paramedics carry a survivor, a 65-year-old woman, out of an ambulance at a hospital on June 2, 2015 in Jingzhou, China. 
  • Rescuers walk in a line along the bank side of the Yangtze River as they search for missing passengers of a capsized tourist ship in Jianli, Hubei province, China, late June 2, 2015.
  • Rescue workers are seen atop the sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 3, 2015.
  • Chinese soldiers carry their boat to the embankment after their search and rescue operation near a capsized cruise ship on the Yangtze River in Jianli in central China’s Hubei province, June 2, 2015. Divers on Tuesday pulled several survivors from inside the capsized cruise ship and searched for other survivors, state media said.
  • Rescue workers carry a body from the capsized passenger ship Dongfangzhixing or “Eastern Star” vessel which sank in the Yangtze river in Jianli, central China’s Hubei province on June 2, 2015. Divers raced to find survivors on June 2 after a Chinese ship sank with more than 450 mainly elderly people in the storm-tossed Yangtze river, raising hopes more people can be found alive.
  • Rescue ships and workers are seen around a sunken ship in the Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015.
  • A man cries as he waits for news of a relative at Xiehe Travel Agency, responsible for passenger ship Dongfangzhixing (Eastern Star) that was traveling to Chongqing and capsized on Monday night in Jianli section of the Yangtze River on June 2, 2015 in Shanghai, China.
  • Rescuers work on the bottom of the capsized tourist ship in the Yangtze River in Jianli county in central China’s Hubei province, June 2, 2015. A passenger ship with more than 450 people on board has sunk in China’s Yangtze River after being caught in “freak weather,” Chinese state media reported.
  • A survivor (C) is carried onto the river bank after being rescued from the Dongfangzhixing or “Eastern Star” vessel which sank in the Yangtze river in Jianli, central China’s Hubei province on June 2, 2015.
  • An aerial view shows rescue workers searching on the sunken ship at Jianli section of Yangtze River, Hubei province, China, June 2, 2015.

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Updated

BEIJING — Despair turned to anger Wednesday as hopes faded for more than 400 people trapped for more than 36 hours in the capsized Eastern Star cruise ship on China’s Yangtze River.

The official death toll rose to 19, state television channel CCTV reported, in what could become the country’s deadliest maritime accident in decades.

Fourteen people have been rescued — including the ship’s captain and chief engineer — but the majority of the 456 on board remained unaccounted for. Many of the passengers were elderly tourists.

Frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of information, some of the passengers’ relatives scuffled with officials in Shanghai — where the trips were booked through a local tour operator.

About two dozen family members, some crying and others shouting “help us,” marched in central Shanghai towards the main government office watched by a heavy police presence.

“We want the government to give us a name list so that we know whether they are alive or not, we all want to know,” said a distraught Cai Bin, the son and nephew of two of the ship’s passengers.

The tourist ship was traveling on the Yangtze — the world’s third-longest river behind the Nile and the Amazon.

It started in the eastern city of Nanjing and was scheduled end up in the Chongqing region in central China. It sank about 110 miles west of the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan. The river is about 50 feet deep in the area.

NBC News’ Eric Baculinao and Reuters contributed to this article. Read the rest at NBCNews.com.

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