(The Korea Herald)
The U.S. State Department and Chinese Foreign Ministry have offered condolences to the victims of the South Korean ferry disaster and the bereaved families.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those who lost their lives on board the South Korean ferry, the Sewol,” Marie Harf, the U.S. State Department’s deputy spokeswoman, was quoted as saying at the start of a daily press briefing on Wednesday.
The United States is willing to offer any assistance necessary for the search-and-rescue operations amid the “terrible tragedy,” the deputy spokeswoman added.
The offer came after the 6,825-ton Sewol, carrying a total of 475 passengers and crew, sank off the southwestern coast of the country Wednesday morning.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also sent his condolences to the victims, an official at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Wang gave his “deep condolences to the victims of the sunken ferry,” in a statement sent on Wednesday night to his Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se, the Korean official said on condition of anonymity, according to Yonhap.
Wang, too, offered a hand in the search-and-rescue operation at the request of the grieving country.
As of 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, the death toll sat at nine ― including three Danwon High School students, two teachers, two unidentified teens and one female vessel staff ― and 287 passengers remained missing. Only 179 have been rescued so far, according to an official report from the disaster safety unit of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.
By Chung Joo-won and news reports (firstname.lastname@example.org)