Some civilian divers and a private rescue ship have withdrawn from a search operation of a passenger ferry that sank off the southwest coast last month, officials said Friday.
Thirty days after the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol carrying an estimated 476 passengers capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo, 281 people have been confirmed dead with 20 others still missing. A total of 172 people were rescued on the day of the sinking.
Of the hundreds of Coast Guard, Navy and civilian divers who have been working in shifts to recover bodies, 13 civilian divers left the site on Thursday, according to the government accident settlement team.
"We plan to deploy a substitute ship within a day and help some 10 civilian divers get to work within two or three days," said an official
The team said a total of 112 divers will work at low tide to mainly search convenience facilities comprising singing rooms, a dining hall and a lounge on the fourth and fifth decks where the missing are presumed to be, the team said.
The currents are forecast to slow down for another two days through Saturday. Waves in the area were expected to reach between 0.5 and 1 meter, with wind blowing at a speed of 5 to 9 meters per second.
The divers recovered three bodies, including one crew member, from a crew member dining hall and a lounge on the third deck Thursday. (Yonhap)