JIANLI, China - Relatives of more than 400 people missing after after a cruise ship capsized on China's Yangtze river were hoping for a "miracle" Wednesday, as authorities said they were racing against time to find any survivors.
State media said just 14 people have been rescued from the "Eastern Star" which overturned late Monday in a storm, with just a section of its hull now emerging from the murky waters.
Another 18 bodies have been recovered, state broadcaster CCTV said, leaving hundreds of mostly elderly passengers still missing and possibly trapped within the ship which witnesses said sank in a matter of seconds.
A total of 456 people had been on board the vessel which was plying a popular tourist route from the eastern city of Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing.
Some 36 hours after the accident, hopes for more survivors are dwindling.
"We are in a race against the clock in the search," transport minister Yang Chuantang said Tuesday.
"It happened suddenly and the rescue has been quite difficult," he said as driving rain hampered the search. "As long as there is the slightest hope, we will make every effort and never give up." Relatives were also refusing to give up.
"I'm hoping for a miracle," Tan Zhenxing, whose father worked on the boat, told the China Daily newspaper.
Rescuers pulled at least three survivors from the wreckage Tuesday after they cut through part of the ship's overturned hull to reach the interior of the vessel, but then worked through the night in vain.