Efforts to search sunken ship delayed by high waves, currents

By 석지현
  • Published : May 3, 2014 - 15:18
  • Updated : May 3, 2014 - 15:44

Swift currents and high waves caused by heavy winds have hampered divers in their search of a sunken ferry for some 70 people still missing amid concerns that their bodies may have been swept away, officials said Saturday.

Navy, Coast Guard and civilian divers recovered two more bodies earlier in the day, bringing the death toll to 230. Seventy-two people are still missing from the sinking off South Korea’s southwestern island of Jindo on April 16.

Concerns are growing that the bodies of the missing could be lost as one body was recovered from waters about 4 kilometers from the accident site on Friday. Three days ago, another body was spotted some 2 km away.

Also, debris believed to have come from the sunken ship has been spotted a far distance from the accident site, sparking concerns that more bodies might have been carried away by strong currents.

A total of 174 people, including most of its crew members, were rescued from the 6,825-ton, five-deck ferry Sewol on the day of the tragedy, but no one has been found alive since.

With the country still reeling from one of its deadliest maritime accidents, a steady stream of citizens headed to memorial altars set up nationwide for victims.

Over the past six days, nearly 300,000 people have paid tribute to the young victims at a government-constructed altar in Ansan, home to Danwon High School, where 158 of the victims were students.

At a separate altar at Seoul Plaza, central Seoul, more than 100,000 citizens have thronged long lines to pay tribute to the deceased.

An intensive investigation is also under way into what caused the accident. So far, 15 crew members of the sunken ferry, including its captain, have been arrested. They have been accused of abandoning the vessel and were rescued shortly after the accident took place.

The prosecution is considering seeking court warrants to detain the owner family and their close aides who have repeatedly refused to respond to prosecutors' summonses. They have been accused of multiple charges, including embezzlement, dereliction of duty and bribery. (Yonhap)