Bodies of two Chinese passengers found in sunken South Korean ferry

Updated: 2014-04-21 21:42


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Bodies of two Chinese passengers found in sunken South Korean ferry

Passengers wait for words

Bodies of two Chinese passengers found in sunken South Korean ferry

'I am sorry,' captain says

JINDO, South Korea - The bodies of two missing Chinese passengers aboard a capsized South Korean ferry were recovered by rescuers on Monday.

The two victims were identified as Chinese men on a list of dead passengers, which has risen to 87 after the 6,825-ton "Sewol" sank off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday.

The Chinese embassy has confirmed that four Chinese nationals - two men a woman and a schoolgirl - were among the missing passengers aboard the ill-fated ship.

A total of 87 passengers have been officially listed as dead so far, 174 have been rescued and 215 are still missing.

Divers intensively searched passenger cabins on the third and fourth floors of the five-story vessel, which sank off Jindo Island, a southwestern tip of South Korea, on last Wednesday.

A total of 22 people, 4 male and 18 female, were discovered and retrieved from the passenger cabins during the nighttime search and rescue operations. All of them were recovered from the cabins on the third and fourth floors.

The pan-government response center said earlier that coast guard, navy and private divers will be sent intensively on Monday night and early Tuesday morning to the passenger cabins where missing people possibly gathered.

Jigging fishing boats, which catch squids, were working at the scene to offer lightening for nighttime operations, while more than 200 rescue ships and three decades of airplanes were displayed to scour the waters.

Search operations have been widely expected to gather steam from Monday on the back of favorable weather conditions and guideline ropes.

Five guideline ropes were installed Sunday to guide divers against rapid currents to the gates of the sunken ferry, enabling divers to enter the hull at a faster pace than before. Two ropes were installed on the bow side, with two on the stern side and one in the middle of the ship.

Divers entered the hull along their respective guideline ropes simultaneously, resulting in random discovery and retrieval of bodies trapped inside the ship.

During the day, divers had difficulties in going into dining halls and entertainment rooms on the third and fourth floors as they were hampered by floating obstacles, but they started to enter the convenience facilities at night.

The facilities had been believed to be swarmed with the Danwon High School students, which took up about 70 percent of 476 passengers, as the students were given free time by teachers when the ferry was sinking. A total of 325 high school students and 15 teachers were on their way for a four-day field trip.

Six bodies were recovered early Monday morning, and only one body was found in the afternoon at around 5 p.m.. All 22 missing people were discovered during the nighttime operations.

The rescue efforts were aided by favorable weather conditions such as calm waves and light wind. Waves were 0.5 to 1 meter high, with the wind blowing at a speed of 6 to 9 meter per second. Water temperature was at 10 to 13 degrees Celsius.

Tidal currents are forecast to slow down from Monday to Thursday in waters off Jindo Island where the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank last Wednesday. The area is famous for swift currents which had hampered rescue operations.

Unmanned submersibles called remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) were used to search the hull where divers were unable to enter. Salvage barges were deployed near the sunken vessel to let divers take a rest and go down into the waters.