Strong winds, high waves and rain effectively halted search operations Monday for more than 100 passengers still missing from a deadly ferry disaster two weeks ago.
Only one body was retrieved in the on-and-off search operations over the weekend, and adverse weather conditions thwarted overnight attempts to resume search efforts, leaving the death toll unchanged at 188 and the number of the missing at 114.
Of the 476 passengers aboard the 6,825-ton ship Sewol that capsized in waters off South Korea's southwestern island of Jindo on April 16, 174 people, including most of the crew members, were rescued on the day of the accident, but no one has been found alive since.
With rain falling on the shipwreck site, Coast Guard, Navy and civilian divers were unable to restart their search efforts on Monday due to high waves of up to 2 meters, strong winds of up to 13 meters per second and strong underwater currents.
A high sea watch has been posted for the shipwreck area since late Sunday, according to the weather agency.
So far, the divers have searched 35 out of the 111 compartments on the sunken ship, but loads inside the rooms hampered their attempt to get inside, according to the authorities.
"We are expected to resume the search operations later in the morning when the warning is lifted," a Coast Guard officer said.
In a desperate attempt to enter the compartments, rescue workers are planning to employ small explosives, along with wire cutters, to open the door with the consent of families of the missing passengers, he added. (Yonhap)