News / Asia

    Death Toll From Sunken South Korean Ferry Nears 60

    South Korean rescue team members on a boat approach to the buoys which were installed to mark the area of the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 20, 2014.
    South Korean rescue team members on a boat approach to the buoys which were installed to mark the area of the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 20, 2014.
    VOA News
    South Korean divers have entered the sunken ferry Sewol to recover more bodies, as the death toll reached 58 Sunday with 246 still unaccounted for. Most of the victims are high school students.

    Hundreds of divers, including civilian volunteers, have battled strong undercurrents and poor visibility to enter the submerged ferry, which went down Wednesday with 476 people on board off the southwestern island of Jindo.

    The Coast Guard said divers were able to smash through a ship's window late Saturday to recover the first bodies in what is expected to be a long and grim recovery operation.

    There are only 174 known survivors, with no one rescued since Wednesday.

    Tracking data shows the ship took a sharp turn while navigating a group of small islands off the southwestern coast.

    South Korean prosecutors say the ferry was being steered by a 26-year-old third mate who was navigating the area for the first time.

    Authorities have confirmed that the ship's captain was in his quarters, leaving the inexperienced third mate at the helm.

    The captain, the third mate and one other crew member were arrested Saturday on charges of deserting their passengers as the ferry was sinking.

    South Korea's Yonhap news agency says the captain is also suspected of instructing passengers to remain seated, even as the ferry began rolling onto its side, blocking escape routes.

    Authorities have not established the cause of the disaster, but some survivors report hearing a loud impact noise before the vessel tilted and began sinking.

    On Friday, Yonhap quoted investigators as saying the ferry's sudden turn may have caused 180 vehicles and nearly 1,200 tons of freight to shift, causing the vessel to list to one side.

    Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    by: patricia hayden from: houston tx usa
    April 20, 2014 9:09 PM
    crying ... this is such a terrible loss...raise your child til they are 16/17 and lose them so horribly..the mom in me will never forget this week...I will be sad for these poor families til the day I die...I pray all the souls can find peace but.... does one find peace in death when you die so painfully

    by: Rick Fox from: Nashville, TN
    April 20, 2014 5:14 PM
    Leaving the tiller at critical time was a serious error. Later decisions, made in rapidly changing circumstances may be more defensible: immediately calling everyone to the may have evoked a lethal panic; telling every one to abandon may have caused death by hypothermia. But leaving the shipping ahead of the passengers was inexcusable.

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