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[Ferry Disaster] ‘Sewol bodies show signs of decomposition’: CSI medical examiner

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Published : 2014-04-18 22:40
Updated : 2014-04-18 23:29

JINDO, South Jeolla Province -– Bodies recovered on Friday from the waters off Jindo Island where the ferry Sewol sank Wednesday morning show that the victims had died a few days ago, a Crime Scene Investigation expert said here Friday night.

“It’s difficult to tell exactly when they died because calculating the (time of death) for bodies found in the water and land are different,” said the examiner, wishing to remain anonymous. He said he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

A recovered body is taken to a hospital in Jindo on Friday. (Yonhap)

“The bodies show signs that rigor mortis has disappeared,” he said, which suggests that the victims have been dead for quite some time. Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the body after death. Rigor mortis dissipates once the body begins to decompose, according to specialists.

Some families had suggested that their loved ones had died only a few minutes before because the bodies showed no signs of stiffness. According to the CSI expert, however, the body had already undergone rigor mortis followed by the softening, suggesting that the person had been dead for a few days.

“We clean the bodies found on the scene out of respect for their families,” the investigator said. “So I suppose when the (victim’s) parents see the body, they could think they had been dead for only a few hours.”

He said that the bodies pulled from the water now show clear signs of decomposition. About 15 CSI officials are currently on the island.

By Jeong Hunny (

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