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Classes Resume at S. Korean School Hit by Ferry Tragedy

  • VOA News

Grief-stricken students returned to school in the South Korean city of Ansan, nine days after a ferry disaster left hundreds of their classmates dead or missing.

Flowers and notes covered the desks of the missing students Thursday as classes resumed. Administrators say the first few days will focus on grief counseling.

The confirmed death toll rose to 159 on Thursday as divers reach further into the ship, which is submerged upside down in murky waters off the southwest coast.

The Sewol was carrying 476 passengers, mostly high school students who were headed for an outing on the resort island of Jeju. Only 174 people were saved.

All but seven of the ship's 29 crew members survived. Eleven of them have been arrested in connection with abandoning or failing to properly evacuate the ship.

Investigators do not know why the 6,800-ton ferry sank. They are considering such factors as strong wind, ocean currents, and improperly loaded freight.

Tracking data indicate the ferry turned sharply in the moments before it began to list. Some passengers also reported hearing a loud bang.