JINDO, South Korea, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Death toll of a sunken South Korean ferry continued to rise Sunday as divers has kept entering the hull of the submerged vessel, the South Korean Coast Guard said.
Koh Myung-seok, director general of the coast guard, told reporters that a total of five underwater ropes, which guide divers through rapid currents to the underwater gate of the ferry from surface, have been installed and the ropes enabled divers to go down into the sunken vessel at a much faster pace than before.
Coast guard, navy and private divers have been entering the hull through their separate guidelines simultaneously, Koh said, noting it resulted in random discovery and retrieval of bodies trapped inside the hull.
As of 10 a.m., 49 people have been confirmed dead and 174 rescued, leaving 253 passengers still missing.
More than 560 divers conducted search operations into the hull overnight 15 times, with 192 rescue ships and 31 airplanes mobilized.
One body was found at 7:10 p.m. Saturday by the coast guard vessel in waters near the site of the accident as the divers had difficulties in going into the hull.
Three bodies were retrieved at 11:48 p.m. from the passenger compartment on the fourth floor of the five-story ship after the divers broke open the window glass and entered the cabin. It was the first recovery inside the hull nearly four days after the 6, 825-ton ferry capsized and sank off Jindo Island, the southwestern tip of South Korea.
At 5:35 a.m. Sunday, one more body was retrieved from the cabin, and 15 minutes later, three more bodies were collected. Nine more bodies were retrieved from the hull from 7:40 to 8:02 a.m.
A total of 563 divers will enter the hull through the five guidelines to search more bodies and possible survivors, while 204 rescue ships and 34 aircraft will scour the areas near the vessel.
The ship Sewol departed the western port city of Incheon Tuesday night for the southern resort island of Jeju. Among the 476 passengers and crew were 325 high school students and 15 teachers on a four-day field trip.
Divers have strived against rapid currents to get into the hull of the ship, and they found three bodies with the naked eye for the first time on Saturday morning.
The third and fourth floors are composed of passenger cabins, where most of the possible survivors may have been trapped. There are freight compartments on the second floor and a dining room on the first floor. Divers succeeded in reaching the first and second floors Friday.
Around 87 passengers stayed at the cabins on the third floor, with 353 put up on the fourth floor and seven on the fifth floor.
10 more bodies found while searching sunken S.Korean ferry
JINDO, South Korea, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Ten more bodies have been found Sunday while divers were conducting search operations for the ferry, which capsized off Jindo Island on Wednesday morning, the pan-government emergency management headquarters said.
It has not yet been confirmed if the bodies were discovered in waters near the upturned vessel, or retrieved from inside the ship. Full story
Misinformation from gov't adds fury to sunken S. Korean ferry tragedy
JINDO, South Korea, April 20 (Xinhua) -- When a ferry capsized off South Korea's southwestern coast Wednesday, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration said 368 people were rescued. Hours later, it was down by more than half to 164. Vice Minister Lee Kyung-ok said the misinformation came from confusing reports from various agents at the scene. The number was rescinded later several times before being fixed at 174 on Friday. Full story