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South Korea ferry death toll reaches 108

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 22 - 2014

More bodies found but 194 remain missing, as rescue operations are ramped up under better weather conditions.

The official death toll from the South Korean capsized ferry has now reached 108, according to the South Korean coast guard.

The coast guard updated the toll as of Tuesday afternoon, as search operations were ramped up under better weather conditions.

“(The rescue team) have retrieved more bodies so the death toll is 108 as of 1500 (local time),” South Korean coast guard official Ko Myung-suk said at a news briefing.

Of the 479 passengers and crew on board, only 174 people have been rescued and 194 remain missing, presumed drowned.

Of those aboard, 339 were children and teachers on a high school outing.

The Sewol ferry sank last Wednesday on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional honeymoon island of Jeju.

Crew detained

Meanwhile, four crew members were taken into police custody on Monday, and were paraded, heads bowed and hiding their faces, before TV cameras on Tuesday.

The detained crew members said they did their best to launch life rafts, and one suggested possible technical reasons for the ship capsizing.

“We tried to gain access to the rafts but the whole ship was already tilted too much”, one crew member said when asked why only one of the Sewol’s 46 life rafts had been used.

“We tried to launch the life rafts but it was hard to get to where they were,” another said.

The 6,825-tonne Sewol had 29 crew, including its captain Lee Jeon-Sook.

Twenty of them escaped the ferry as it sank last Wednesday morning, and there has been public outrage at reports they were among the first to evacuate while hundreds remained trapped in the vessel.

One crew member, apparently an officer, suggested the ferry had a structural flaw that made it difficult to regain equilibrium once it had been lost.

The ship was built in 1994 in Japan and purchased by the Cheonghaejin Marine Company in 2012.

The officer also mentioned “some errors” with the steering system. The Sewol capsized after making a sharp right turn.

This led experts to suggest its cargo manifest might have shifted, causing it to list beyond a critical point of return.

Lee and two other crew members were arrested over the weekend and charged with criminal negligence, before the arrests on Monday.

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