Thursday, 1 May 2014

South Korean ferry disaster: 213 confirmed dead, 89 still missing

The toll rose Thursday to 213 in the South Korean ferry disaster in which the 6,825-ton passenger ship sank off the country’s southwestern coast.

As of Thursday afternoon, 213 people have been confirmed dead, leaving 89 others still missing, Xinhua reported. There has been no rescue reported since 174 people were saved from sea after the ship sank April 16.

On the 16th day into the search Thursday, only one more body was recovered from the submerged ship as search operations were hampered by swift currents and murky waters.

From 3 p.m., divers resumed search for bodies trapped inside as tidal currents became slower.

Divers completed search operations in 44 passenger cabins of the total 64 on the third and fourth floors of the five-storey vessel. The cabins were believed to have accommodated most of the remaining unaccounted for.

Search and rescue operations have been hampered by rapid currents and floating objects. Waters near the scene are known for the country’s second-fastest currents.

As the ferry tilted underwater to the port side at some 90 degrees to the surface, the search was wrapped up for the right and the middle sides of the ship.

A total of 47 divers were conducting search operations, while 198 rescue ships and 37 airplanes were deployed to help search possible bodies swept far away from the scene. One body was found in waters around two km from the scene.

Divers searching the sunken Sewol ferry might not be able to recover every missing body, said the South Korean coast guard yesterday.

The recovery of a body from South Korea's ferry disaster some distance from the submerged vessel fueled concerns on Thursday that many among the scores still missing may never be found.

More than two weeks after the 6,825-tonne Sewol capsized and sank, 213 people have been confirmed dead but 89 remain unaccounted for, much to the frustration and anger of the victims' families. On Wednesday, a fishing boat pulled a body from the sea about two kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the main recovery site off the southern island of Jindo.

"This made us even more aware of the importance of preventing the loss of victims' bodies," Park Seung-Ki, spokesman for the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, told reporters.

Recovery workers put a ring of netting around the site days ago, but there are concerns that powerful currents in the area may have pulled some bodies into the open sea.

The relatives of those still missing are insisting that all the bodies are recovered before efforts begin to raise the sunken ferry.

But the dive teams, working in challenging and sometimes hazardous conditions, have yet to access 22 of the ship's 66 passenger cabins in their grim search.

Thursday 01 May 2014


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