Nine villagers were dead and two remained missing after falling into a river while watching a traditional dragon boat race in eastern China, a state news agency reported Monday.

The group had been standing along a muddy, slippery riverbank in Jiangxi province's Tonggubao village on Sunday evening when they fell into the water, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local authorities and witnesses.

Click here to see photos of the Dragon Boat Festival

The provincial government ordered a search and rescue effort for the missing.

The Dragon Boat Festival, known as Duanwu and celebrated throughout the country, is traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It features dragon boat races and family meals of "zongzi," sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.