Yangtze River capsize
Authorities say 396 died in Yangtze River cruise ship disasterReuters

The death toll following the cruise ship disaster in the Yangtze River has risen to 396, according to Chinese authorities.

The Eastern Star ship capsized during a storm on Monday with 458 passengers and crew on board, and was turned upright in a delicate operation on Friday.

Only 14 people – including the ship's captain – have been rescued in eastern China and more than 40 are still missing, according to BBC reports.

The tragedy looks set to be China's worst shipping disaster in more than 60 years of Communist rule.

The rescue operation began on Thursday and involved welding hooks onto the entire structure of the ship so that it could be lifted by a crane.

By Friday, the ship had been righted and the search for bodies had continued.

According to authorities, most of the bodies were recovered from inside the ship's vessel and there had been no further signs of life, Xinhua news agency reports.

Families left frustrated

Authorities have tightly controlled access to the site of the accident, leading family members and journalists to complain about a lack of information.

In a sign of the frustration felt by relatives, a 70-year-old woman from Qingdao interrupted a press conference that was held by the authorities on Friday, according to Channel NewsAsia.

"We are the family members of the victims, we have every right to come into such news conferences, but yet you invite all these outsiders," she said. "We are taxpayers, and the money goes towards the government. You have to change this mindset. You are providing a service for us. You must humanise."

According to reports, her sister and brother-in-law were on board the Eastern Star.

The cause of the sinking is not yet known, but weather officials have said a tornado hit the area at the time of the incident which flipped the boat over in minutes, the BBC reported.

Most of the 14 known survivors jumped from the ship as it began to sink, while three people were rescued by divers from air pockets in the upturned hull.

The captain and chief engineer, who were among those who escaped, have since been detained.

Maritime agency records in China show the ship was investigated for safety violations two years ago, according to the BBC.

China's previous deadliest maritime disaster in recent decades was in November 1999, when the Dashun ferry caught fire and capsized in the sea off Shandong province, killing about 280.

The Yangtze River disaster has already eclipsed that figure.