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10 more bodies found inside sunken ferry by divers


Divers recovered 13 bodies from inside a ferry that sank off South Korea, pushing the confirmed death toll to 46, officials said on sunday

Mokpo(South Korea): Divers recovered 13 bodies from inside a ferry that sank off South Korea, pushing the confirmed death toll to 46, officials said on sunday. The discovery came after rescuers finally gained access to the inside of the ship following three days of failure and frustration caused by strong currents and bad visibility due to inclement weather.

More than 300 people are missing or dead, and the captain of the ferry has been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

Late on saturday, divers broke a window in the submerged ferry and initially retrieved three bodies, Kim Kwang-hyun, a coast guard official, said today. These apparently were the first bodies recovered from inside the ferry since it sank Wednesday. Later today, government officials announced that 10 more bodies had been found inside the ferry, pushing the confirmed toll to 46. Officials said 256 people were missing, most of them high school students on a holiday trip.

Details about how divers managed to enter the ship and where the bodies were found or their identities weren’t clear. Government officials said the bodies were found inside the ferry but didn’t immediately provide other details. Hundreds of civilian, government and military divers were involved in the search.

The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, was arrested along with one of the Sewol’s three helmsmen and the 25-year-old third mate, prosecutors said.

“I am sorry to the people of South Korea for causing a disturbance and I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims,” Lee told reporters yesterday morning as he left the Mokpo Branch of Gwangju District Court to be jailed. But he defended his much-criticized decision to wait about 30 minutes before ordering an evacuation.

“At the time, the current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without (proper) judgment, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties,” Lee said. “The rescue boats had not arrived yet, nor were there any civilian fishing ships or other boats nearby at that time.”

The Sewol had left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the holiday island of Jeju in the south with 323 students from Danwon High School in Ansan among its passengers. It capsized within hours of the crew making a distress call to the shore a little before 9 am Wednesday.

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