Friday, Oct 24, 2014

South Korea ferry disaster: Death toll reaches 212

Relatives of a passenger aboard the sunken Sewol ferry look toward the sea at a port in Jindo, South Korea. (AP) Relatives of a passenger aboard the sunken Sewol ferry look toward the sea at a port in Jindo, South Korea. (AP)
Associated Press | Mokpo | Posted: April 30, 2014 1:17 pm | Updated: April 30, 2014 1:19 pm

Two weeks after a ferry sank off South Korea’s southern cost, divers have recovered 212 bodies from the wreckage, but they fought strong currents and floating debris inside the ship Wednesday as they searched for 90 passengers still missing.

Meanwhile, family members of high students killed in the sinking dismissed as insincere President Park Geun-hye’s apology for the government’s handling of the disaster. They called for the quick retrieval of the missing. The ship carried 476 people, mostly from a single high school. Only 174 people survived, including 22 of the 29 crew members.

After several days of sluggish search efforts because of bad weather, divers on Tuesday retrieved more than a dozen bodies from the ship, which lies on the ocean floor, triggering a fresh outpouring of emotions by family members waiting for the return of their loved ones.

Park apologized Tuesday for the government’s inept initial response to the sinking. Her apology came amid rising indignation over claims by the victims’ relatives that the government did not do enough to rescue or protect their loved ones. Earlier Tuesday, she visited a memorial set up in Ansan city where the high school students are from.

Some angry family members shouted at Park, demanded an apology and moved away condolence flowers sent by her and other top officials, according to South Korean media reports.

“What Park did at the memorial alter was like coming there to shoot an advertisement, surrounded by bodyguards,” Yu Gyeong-geun, the father of one of the students, said Tuesday.

All 15 crew members of the Sewol involved in navigating the ship have already been formally arrested. The seven surviving crew members who have not been arrested or detained held non-marine jobs such as chef or steward, according to prosecutors.

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