South Korea Ferry: Death Toll Passes 100
The confirmed death toll from the South Korean ferry that capsized last week has passed 100, as divers recovered more bodies from the sunken hull.A total of 104 people are now known to have died, but another 198 are missing, presumed trapped inside the vessel.
The ferry tipped over and sank within two hours, but it is not yet clear why.
Seven crew members have been detained, however, amid intense criticism of their failure to evacuate all passengers as the ship listed.
Passengers were told to remain in rooms and cabin, reports suggest, amid confusion on the bridge over whether to order them to abandon ship.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday condemned the conduct of some of the crew, calling it “akin to murder”.
A total of 174 passengers were rescued from the Sewol, which capsized as it sailed from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju.
But there were 476 people on board, including 339 children and teachers on a school trip. Many were trapped inside the ship as it listed to one side and then sank.
Military divers have been searching the ship for those who died. Bodies of victims are being brought back to the port on Jindo island at a steady rate now, reports the BBC’s Jonathan Head, who is in Jindo.
Divers have managed to reach many of the cabins in the hull of the upturned ferry, although they are still trying to get into the ship’s restaurant, where they believe many of the passengers were trapped.
They have also loaded an underwater robot at the port this morning, ready to be used in the operation to bring the hull to the surface, our correspondent adds.
Rescue officials say they will keep searching with divers for another two days, but that the families of the victims have agreed that the salvage operation can begin after that.
Investigations are focusing on whether the ferry took too sharp a turn – perhaps destabilising the vessel – before it started listing and whether an earlier evacuation order could have saved lives.
Captain Lee Joon-seok was not on the bridge when the ferry began listing. It was being steered by a third mate who had never navigated the waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors say.
The captain and two other crew members have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law. Four more crew members were detained on Monday.