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South Korea ferry disaster: No air pockets found in lower decks, death toll reaches 150

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 16:35

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Jindo: One week after the South Korean ferry sank off Jindo Island, divers were still retrieving the bodies from the lower decks of the sunken ship as death toll kept shooting up with more and more bodies being found with each passing day, dashing the hopes of kins of those missing.

The death toll from the country`s worst maritime disaster shot up to 150, and more than hundred remained unaccounted for, reported Yonhap news agency.

The joint task force assigned with the task of rescue operation today declared that no air pockets were found on the third and fourth floors of the sunken ferry Sewol.

This ended the hopes of any surviviors being left in the passenger cabins of the ferry.

As the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol was listing, many remained trapped in the third and fourth decks of the ferry which constituted the passenger cabin. The divers on late Tuesday night managed to enter the cafeteria at the third deck of the cabin where many were believed to have been trapped. Most of the bodies recovered were from the third and the fourth deck of the sunken ferry.

The rescue operators from the Coastguard, Navy and other divers have a strenuous task at hand, as they dive in the dark cold waters, loaded with oxygen tanks to search for the missing bodies.

According to the Yonhap news agency, a total of 212 boats, 34 aircraft and some 550 rescue workers have been roped in for the task.

As the probe into the ferry disaster widened, the offices of the sunken ferry`s operators were raided today by the prosecutors, reported the Yonhap news agency.

Prosecutors raided ferry Sewol`s operator - Cheonghaejin Marine Co. - and also 20 offices of its affiliates. Also, a religious group in Seoul believed to be related to the owner`s family too was raided.

Out of 476 passengers aboard the ferry, 339 were students and teachers from a single high school who were on a field trip to the resort of Jeju island, according to a BBC report.

The hopes have been fading for the families of the passengers, as more and more bodies have been recovered.

Tragic scenes were witnessed as families waiting for their loved ones, had to see their dead bodies brought ashore by the rescuers.

The team said rescue workers will continue to search around the clock as weather conditions have improved, by mobilizing

According to the reports, out of 46 life boats available, only two were deployed by the crew. Also, the people were instructed to remain in their places by the irresponsible crew of the ferry, nine of whom have now been detained, with the captain and two others being charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law .

It has emerged from the investigations that the captain had left the ship at the mercy of another inexperienced `third mate`, who was steering the ferry in the challenging waters when the accident happened. 

The third mate was identified as a 25-year old woman crew member who had never before been at the helm of the ferry in the challenging waters.

The sunken ferry Sewol was a 146-meter vessel with a capacity of 900 people. It was heading from the port of Incheon, in northwestern South Korea to the resort island of Jeju, when it sank last Wednesday.

The ferry is said to have struck something with a thud after which the ship listed and capsized and sank off Jindo island.

First Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 09:43

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