By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-09 22:45:24
Some Chinese media outlets appear to have removed reports that the Eastern Star had been modified in a way that could have impacted passenger movement during the June 1 disaster, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Eastern Star capsized on the Yangtze River during a storm. Only 14 of the 456 people on board are known to have survived. 434 people are confirmed dead, and eight people are still missing.
The Eastern Star is alleged to have undergone a retrofit that involved passenger cabin doors that led directly out to the ship’s deck being sealed shut and turned into windows, according to a report by Beijing News. The report has now been removed from the website, but it hypothesized that this change, and several others, made the vessel more dangerous and more prone to capsizing.
Quartz news says that unnamed people who had worked on the Eastern Star before the retrofit said that other changes included replacing passengers’ fixed beds with wooden ones. This could be a safety hazard if the beds moved and shifted the vessel’s center of gravity or blocked exits.
The retrofits, conducted in 1997, also included lengthening the ship from 66 to 76.5 meters and changing the vessel’s bow to improve propulsion efficiency.
It is yet to be confirmed that any of these modification did make a difference to the outcome of the June 1 disaster.
No more bodies were found on Tuesday as the search and rescue mission on the Yangtze River continues. Rescuers are searching an area of 22,500 square meters around the site of the disaster.