A cultural event to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in Shishi, southeast China's Fujian Province. File picture: Song Weiwei/Xinhua

Beijing — Chinese state broadcaster CCTV says five people have died and others are missing after two dragon boats capsized in southern China, causing 60 people to fall into the water.

CCTV reported that the boats had been rehearsing for a race on Saturday in the Taohua River in the city of Guilin when the accident happened. It was not immediately clear what caused the boats to capsize.

Five bodies and two survivors were pulled from the water. CCTV says rescuers have been searching for an unspecified number of others who remained missing.

Participants attend a dragon boat race in Xuan'en County, central China's Hubei Province.
Participants attend a dragon boat race in Xuan'en County, central China's Hubei Province. File picture: Song Wen/Xinhua


Contestants take part in a dragon boat race held in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province.
Contestants take part in a dragon boat race held in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. File picture: Wu Haisen/Xinhua

China has sought to step up safety surrounding nationwide dragon boat racing on the Duanwu festival, which falls near the summer solstice and commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan in the third century B.C.

AP