Search operations for passengers missing from April's deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol will be put on hold for the next three days following the death of a civilian diver and bad weather, officials said Sunday.
"Based on weather conditions, we expect the search operations will be suspended from Monday to Wednesday," Koh Myung-suk, a senior Coast Guard official of the government's disaster response team, told a press briefing.
Amid little progress over the past two weeks in finding the 16 people still missing, 44-year-old diver Lee Min-seop died Friday while participating in the operations to cut open windows of the submerged hull to gain access to unsearched compartments filled with debris.
The search was briefly resumed Saturday afternoon but a team of divers pulled out early Sunday after failing to recover a single body, said the officials.
Weather in the area was forecast to be unfavorable from Monday to Wednesday, with waves reaching nearly four meters and wind blowing at between 10 and 14 meters per second, according to the weather service.
The team said the divers need to further cut out parts of windows on the ill-fated ship' fourth deck where some of the missing are believed to be trapped.
The divers earlier in the day cast a net around the ship to prevent bodies inside from being swept away when part of the hull is cut open, the officials said. (Yonhap)