Rescuers have recovered three bodies swept away by a freak tide yesterday in Qiantang River, Zhejiang Province, Xinhua news agency said today.

Eight others were still missing, the report said.

©AP Photo/EyePress
Residents crowd near the levee of the Qiantang River to watch rescue workers search for people who were swept away by a wave in Hangzhou, eastern China's Zhejiang province, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007.

The bodies of two women and one man were found. Relatives began identifying the bodies at 9:50am today, the report said.

The tide hit a group of tourists and locals about 4pm yesterday at a T-shaped levee in the mouth of the Qiantang River. At least 33 people were washed away and 22 have been rescued.

Rescue workers said the victims were either swimming or walking on the levee in Qibao, Xiasha District, about 20 kilometers southeast of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang.

Among the missing were Liu Tao, 15, from Chongqing Municipality, and Yu Xiaoyao, 21, a student at Shaanxi Normal University.

A Jiangxi man, who rushed to Hangzhou yesterday evening, said his son Lin Xiaobing and 10-year-old grand-daughter were missing.

A woman from central Hunan Province, Wang Juxiang, said her aunt and cousin were missing.

Hangzhou Mayor Cai Qi reached the scene this morning.

Fifteen police officers in two vessels joined the search about 10pm yesterday. Earlier, the local public security and maritime authorities sent about 50 officers and a coastguard vessel to search. They were joined by five fishing boats.

Scientists say that the trumpet-shaped mouth of the Qiantang River helps form severe tidal changes, which can be as high as 3.5 meters.