BEIJING - An official inquiry has found that a freak storm caused the sinking of a cruise ship on China's Yangtze river with the death of nearly 450 people and recommended the captain be probed for possible crimes, state media said Wednesday. The Eastern Star capsized with mostly elderly holidaymakers on board in June, the country's worst shipping disaster for more than six decades. A six-month investigation by the cabinet-like State Council said the sinking was caused by "freak" strong winds and heavy rains, an official website said.–AFP

Despite widespread public anger, the report only named relatively low-level government officials as responsible for the disaster which killed 442, and recommended sacking as their heaviest punishment.

The Eastern Star encountered the squall during a trip from Nanjing to Chongqing on the night of June 1. A downburst, instead of a tornado as reported previously, produced strong winds that overturned the vessel, the report said.