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South Korean ferry death toll rises to 33, 269 missing

English.news.cn   2014-04-19 23:35:22

SEOUL, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Wednesday's ferry disaster off South Korea has risen to 33, with 269 passengers still missing, as divers continued to search for possible survivors Saturday.

The ferry, carrying 476 passengers, sank in waters near Jindo Island, off South Korea's southwestern tip. So far, 174 people have been rescued, while local media reported a female passenger's body was found Saturday night, taking the death toll to 33.

Earlier, the South Korean Coast Guard told a press briefing three more bodies were discovered in nearby waters in the afternoon.

A female passenger's body dressed in life jackets was found at 4:55 p.m. local time Saturday about 100 meters away from the submerged ferry.

Another body was discovered at 5:47 p.m. in nearby waters, with the third found at 5:58 p.m.

Among the passengers were 325 high school students and 15 teachers on a four-day field trip. The ship departed from South Korea's western port city of Incheon Tuesday night for the southern resort island of Jeju.

Among the rescued, 75 were students from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a Seoul suburb. Eleven students have been confirmed dead, with 239 others still missing.

Coast guard, navy and private divers continued their efforts amid rapid currents to enter the hull of the capsized ship, and some private divers saw bodies on the fourth deck of the five-deck vessel at around 5:50 a.m., the first discovery within the hull since the 6,825-ton Sewol capsized.

The divers tried to break open the door into the cabin where they saw the bodies, but were obstructed by debris and had to return to the surface before gaining entry. No sound has been heard yet from inside the hull.

The third and fourth decks are composed of passenger cabins, where possible survivors may be trapped. There are freight compartments on the second deck and a dining room on the first. Divers succeeded in reaching the first and second decks Friday.

Eighty-seven passengers stayed in the cabins on the third deck, with 353 put up on the fourth and seven on the fifth.

A total of 192 rescue ships and 31 airplanes were conducting search and rescue operations Saturday.

Divers have cleared a passage within the hull and placed three guidelines to aid their search for survivors in the chilly and murky waters.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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