The Eastern Star was carrying 456 people on an 11-day trip up the river from Nanjing to Chongqing when it capsized near the small community of Jianli in Hubei.
The ship, said to have been hit by a tornado around 9 in the evening on Monday, took only around a minute to capsize.
Most of the passengers on the ship, elderly sight-seers from the Shanghai area, had already gone to bed when the storm hit.
Of the 456 people onboard at the time, only 14 people have been found alive so far.
Xiong Wei, professor and maritime salvage expert with Dalian Maritime University says rescue crews did exactly what they should have done when it came to the search for possible survivors.
"The first thing to do is to drill holes into the bottom of the hull. The second is to send divers into the individual cabins to take people out who are trapped. The last step is to lift the ship out of the water. All of these steps have now been taken. This is the standard method used when it comes to accidents such as this."
The Eastern Star was pulled from the water on Friday night after searchers determined they were not going to find any survivors by continuing to send divers into the submerged vessel.
Professor Xiong Wei says extracting the boat from the river was, in itself, a challenging task.
"For example, crews had to get a clear picture of the ships condition, such as how much damage was done to the upturned ship, what it was like at the bottom of the river, where should the cable go and how they could be attached. Things like that take quite a long time. In actual fact, the first divers on the scene would have been collecting information from their rescue dives to prepare for the entire salvage."
Many of the over one-thousand relatives of the victims, who had gathered on the riverbank, broke down in tears as the ship emerged from the murky waters.
The Chinese Armed Police Force based in Hubei has been charged with collecting the remains of the victims.
Local CAPF Commander Zhou Xuguang says they are working to ensure the victim's bodies are properly cared for.
"We have created a special plan to wash the bodies, register their identities, and move them to the morgue. Our soldiers will first pay a silent tribute to the victims before carefully removing them from the scene. Six soldiers will accompany each body to a designated site off-scene."
The Ministry of Transport said on Saturday that oil leaking from the capsized Eastern Star in the Yangtze River has been cleaned up.
Oil spilled from the cruise ship when it was hoisted from the water on Friday morning, and river authorities have moved quickly before serious pollution occurred.
The Eastern Star had been in service for nearly 20 years, and was authorized to carry up to 534 people.
A lawyer for the Chongqing Dongfang Shipping Company, which owns the Eastern Star, says the ship itself went through annual maintenance checks late last year, and was qualified to sail until next year.
The captain and chief engineer have been detained by the police for questioning.
Chinese president Xi Jinping is calling for a thorough investigation into the incident and has promised to make the findings public.
Meanwhile, some 500 grief councilors have been dispatched to Jianli to help the families of the victims through their ordeal.
For CRI, I'm Xie Cheng.
《 CRI在线收听：Eastern Star Death Toll Reaches 396》出自：天天学英语