News / Asia

Classes Resume at S. Korean School Hit by Ferry Tragedy

  • A mourner pays tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol near condolence flowers at a temporary memorial at the auditorium of the Olympic Memorial Museum in Ansan, South Korea, April 24, 2014.
  • A man reads messages showing signs of hope for the safe return of passengers of the sunken ferry boat Sewol in Ansan, South Korea, April 24, 2014.
  • A Buddhist monk prays for passengers aboard the sunken ferry boat Sewol at a port in Jindo, South Korea, April 24, 2014.
  • A mourner weeps as she pays tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol, at a gymnasium in Ansan, South Korea, April 23, 2014.
  • A woman cries while praying during a candlelight vigil in Ansan, to commemorate the victims of capsized passenger ship Sewol and to wish for the safe return of missing passengers, April 23, 2014.
  • People pray during a candlelight vigil in Ansan, South Korea, April 23, 2014.
  • Family members of a missing passenger of capsized passenger ship Sewol wait for news at a gymnasium in the port city of Jindo, South Korea, April 23, 2014.
  • Searchers and divers look for people believed to have been trapped in the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, April 22, 2014.
  • The sun sets as searchers and divers look for bodies of passengers believed to have been trapped in the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, April 22, 2014.
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.

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