SEOUL, Oct 28 – South Korean divers discovered another body inside the sunken Sewol ferry on Tuesday – six months after it capsized and more than 100 days after the last corpse was recovered, officials said. The body was found inside a women’s restroom in the upturned ferry which sank on April 16 with the loss of more than 300 lives – most of them students from the same high school.
“An operation is now under way to retrieve the body from the ship,” an official involved in the recovery operation said by phone from the southern island of Jindo. The last body to be pulled from the upturned ship was on July 18, and since then divers have continued to search the ferry on a near-daily basis as victims’ relatives refuse to approve the raising of the Sewol before all the dead are accounted for.
Tuesday’s discovery means there are now only nine victims of the disaster still missing. Of the 476 people on board the 6,825-tonne Sewol when it capsized, 325 were high school students on an organised outing. Only 75 students survived. Relatives of those still unaccounted for have remained in Jindo for the past six months, despite warnings that their loved ones may have been washed out to sea.
The South Korean government has vowed not to bring in the heavy lifting cranes without the agreement of the victims’ families, but the recovery teams have warned that time is running out for the divers as winter approaches. On Monday, the relatives still in Jindo voted for the first time on whether to allow the cranes in, with the decision going 5-4 against the idea.