U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed sympathy Friday for the loss of scores of South Korean students in the sinking of a ferry last month.
"As a father and grandfather myself, I cannot begin to imagine the pain so many in the Republic of Korea are enduring," he said in a statement issued on the occasion of South Korea's Children's Day that falls on May 5.
It marked the secretary's first statement on South Korea's worst ferry disaster in decades.
"No parent should ever have to experience the loss of a son or daughter," he said, "Our hearts go out to the parents and family members of the young people that were lost."
As of Friday night (Seoul time), 228 people who were aboard the ship have been found dead, with 74 others still unaccounted for.
Many of the victims were high school students on a field trip.
Kerry said the tragedy is a reminder of "what a great gift children are for all of us."
"In memory of the young people lost, we reaffirm our commitment to work together to promote the welfare of our children, as well as the health, safety, and education of future generations," he said. (Yonhap)