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Death toll rises to 12 in central China ferry accident

(Xinhua)

13:31, September 12, 2011

Relatives of a missing child cry in a boat on Saturday in Shaoyang, Hunan province. As of Saturday night, at least 11 people died from the accident including nine students. [Photo by Guo Guoquan / for China Daily]

SHAOYANG, Hunan, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The body of a person who had gone missing after a ferry sank in the Fuyi River in central China's Hunan Province was retrieved on Sunday, bringing the accident's death toll to 12.

The remains of 48-year-old Zhao Qiu'e were found about five kilometers downstream from the scene of the accident that occurred at about 3:20 p.m. Friday, said Duan Shaoxing, vice head of the Shaoyang County government.

A total of 38 people have been rescued since the accident. Of the survivors, 20 were injured.

The government of Shaoyang has provided compensation of 200,000 yuan (about 30,796 U.S. dollars) to the families of each person who died in the accident, Duan said.

"If a victim had both elderly parents and young children to look after, the compensation could be higher," he added.

Three government officials have been removed from their posts in light of the fatal accident which occurred just before China's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, an occasion for family reunions which falls on Sept. 12 this year.

The Shaoyang County government has confirmed that 50 people were aboard the vessel when the accident occurred. Most were students from two primary and middle schools in the town of Tangtianshi going home to celebrate the festival.

Sources with the Hunan Province Department of Transportation confirmed that the ferry had a maximum capacity of 14 people.

The ferry is believed to have run into some riverside iron cables used for sand mining dredgers.

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