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[Ferry Disaster] Death toll rises to 28 in ferry sinking

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Published : 2014-04-17 23:46
Updated : 2014-04-18 14:45

Maritime police officials recover a body in search for the missing passengers of the sunken ferry on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Navy and Coast Guard rescuers found 17 more bodies of passengers trapped in the Sewol on Thursday night and Friday morning, bringing the total number of confirmed dead to 28.

Of the 17 victims, only 10 have been identified. They include eight high-school students, one crewmember and a 60-year-old passenger. All of the bodies were sent to Hankuk Hospital in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

As the bodies arrived at the hospital, families of the victims burst into tears with some of the parents screaming and collapsing.

Students and citizens in Ansan attend a rally, hoping for the survival of Danwon High School students believed to be trapped inside the capsized ferry on Thursday. (Yonhap)
As of 10 p.m., 25 of the total 475 passengers were confirmed dead, while 271 remained unaccounted for. Since the 6,825-ton ship sank off the coast of Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province, on Wednesday morning, 179 people have been rescued.

On the third day of the frantic search-and-rescue operations, divers continued to do their utmost to find more survivors. But strong tidal currents and poor underwater visibility have hampered their operations.

Concerns have risen that the bodies in the ship could be lost due to the strong currents.

“As the tides have changed their course, bodies have started to flow out of the ship,” a maritime police officer told media.

A total of 500 divers including 229 naval commandos have been mobilized to help the rescue operations at the scene of the country’s worst maritime disaster since 1993. Three massive cranes have arrived at the scene to help pull the sunken vessel up.

But the rescue team said that they would take extra caution in their operations as any mishandling of the ship could lead to a loss of oxygen and bodies inside the ship.

Meanwhile, President Park Geun-hye talked with one of the victims’ parents on Friday night and vowed that the government would do all it could to rescue survivors.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

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