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Underwater search for Sewol victims to resume

South Korea will resume the underwater search of the 2014 ferry sinking site in the hope of finding the still-missing five victims, the Ministry of Oceans of Fisheries said Sunday.

The ministry said the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology conducted the topography investigation and completed the measurement on the seabed to install 200-by-160 nets underwater where Sewol was lying before the recovery. Divers will walk on the seabed and use sonar radar to detect the bodies.

A worn-out car which has been inside Sewol's wreckage for the past three years is seen at Mokpo port, Jeolla Province. (Yonhap)
A worn-out car which has been inside Sewol's wreckage for the past three years is seen at Mokpo port, Jeolla Province. (Yonhap)

In case the missing five bodies are not found in waters off Jindo, which have the second-strongest tidal current in Korea, the search operators will dig out up to 5,000-tons of mud and stones underwater. It will be carried in bags and brought onshore using dredging vessels for a search, the ministry said.

During the first stage, about 120 search operators sifted manually through bags of mud retrieved from the third to fifth decks of the ferry, where cabins are located.

Noting that the remains of Danwon High School teacher Go Chang-suk, one of four victims identified during the search, was discovered underwater, bereaved families have continually requested that the authorities strengthen the underwater operation.

The search of Sewol’s wreckage, which was brought onshore on April 9, will resume, too.

Deck and cabin areas were earlier searched, leading to the discovery of the remains of the five victims.

While the entire search operation led by the ministry will come to an end in September, an independent committee will continue to investigate why the ship sank and so many were not rescued, the ministry said.

The special investigative body, which will comprise of some 35 government officials and 15 officers with expertise, is expected to be organized by July. The committee will have six months to investigate the cause behind the sinking.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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