Search efforts for the ferry victims resumed Friday, following a half-day suspension due to strong winds and high currents.
As of Friday, the death toll from the April 16 ferry disaster rose to 284 with 20 still unaccounted for. Most of the victims were students from a high school who were on a school trip.
Divers reentered the water in the afternoon to search the third and fourth decks of the ship. This is the second round of full search operations following the completion of the first round that took about a month.
The maritime authorities vowed to continue the search efforts until the last body is recovered.
“(We) will do our utmost until we pull up the last passenger with a feeling of atonement (for the disaster),” said Coast Guard chief Kim Seok-kyun in a briefing on Thursday.
Kim also pledged not to salvage the sunken ship without permission from the families of the victims, who were apprehensive about the possible damage to or loss of the victims trapped in the sunken vessel.
Meanwhile, a dozen civilian divers who helped the Coast Guard and Navy divers were pulled out. They were supposed to participate in the search operations only for five days. But the stay was extended for more than 10 days as the work was postponed by bad weather. About 10 new civilian divers are expected to be deployed in a few days.
Of the three bodies recovered on Thursday, one was found to be a crewman surnamed Yang, the only high-ranking sailor who did not abandon the ferry.
When the ferry Sewol was capsizing, Yang called his wife, telling her to use his savings account for their son’s tuition, the wife told the media. The 45-year-old quickly hung up, saying that he could not talk for long because he had to run to save the teenage passengers.
As the account of his selfless action was heard, a municipal government is working on legally recognizing his sacrifice.
Legal recognition is given to those who risk their lives by going beyond the call of duty. Once the sacrifice is legally recognized by the government, the Yang’s body is to be buried in the national cemetery. Compensation and various benefits will also be offered to the bereaved family.
Three ferry victims were legally recognized earlier this week following a public request.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (email@example.com)