SOUTH KOREA: More bodies arrive at port as search operations continues around the sunken ferry in South Korea South Korean coastguards discovered more bodies from the ferry disaster on Monday (April 21) morning, bringing the confirmed death toll to 64. The two bodies, both female, arrived at the Paengmok port in Jindo around 9:20 a.m. local time (0020GMT), coastguard said. Some 20 family members waiting at the site were shown the bodies for identidy checks. The Sewol ferry was on a routine 400-km (300-mile) voyage from Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju in calm weather on Wednesday carrying 476 passengers and crew, among them 339 children and teachers on a high school outing. South Korean prosecutors investigating last week's ferry disaster said on Sunday they wanted to extend the detention of the captain and two other crew as they try to determine the cause of an accident that likely claimed more than 300 lives. More than 200 are still listed as missing. A clearer picture started to emerge of the time around the capsize after coastguards released a recording of a conversation between vessel controllers and the ship. Witnesses have said the Sewol turned sharply before it began listing. It is still not clear why the vessel turned. It took more than two hours for it to capsize completely but passengers were ordered to stay put in their cabins. According to the transcript, at 9.25 a.m. the controllers told the 69-year old Captain Lee Joon-seok to "decide how best to evacuate the passengers" and that he should "make the final decision on whether or not to evacuate". Lee was not on the bridge when the ship turned. Navigation was in the hands of a 26-year old third mate who was in charge for the first time in the passage, according to crew members. The transcript shows crew on the ship worried there were not enough rescue boats at the scene to take on all the passengers. Witnesses said the captain and some crew members took to rescue boats before the passengers. Lee said earlier he feared that passengers would be swept away by the ferocious currents if they leapt into the sea, but he has not explained why he left the vessel.
SOUTH KOREA: Families of South Korean missing ferry passengers frustrated by slow rescue efforts Families of those missing due to a ferry capsize in South Korea were frustrated by sluggish rescue efforts on Saturday (April 19) as they clung to the fading hopes on their loved ones would return alive. The ferry, carrying 476 passengers, many of them schoolchildren, and crew, capsized on Wednesday (April 16) on a journey from the port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju. Some 174 people have been rescued and more than 200 are still missing, South Korean Coast Guard said. Divers searching for survivors in the capsized Sewol ferry saw early Saturday three bodies floating through a window of a passenger cabin where many of the children were believed to be trapped, but were unable to break the glass to retrieve them. The discovery comes amid stalled rescue efforts due to strong tides as hundreds of navy, coastguard and private divers scour the site, 25 km (15 miles) off the southwest coast of South Korea. Families, desperately waiting for their sons or daughters to be found alive, said they're frustrated by the sluggish search efforts which have been unsuccessful to rescue a single survivor during last four days of operations. Some anxious families complained to the coast guard and urged them to make the utmost effort until the last minute. "I'm frustrated by the sluggish rescue operations. They've been going down there for four days now but no progress has been made. They didn't even get into the ship to figure out whether the children there are starved to death or not," said 59-year-old South Korean family member of missing passenger, Kim Seon-eh, A 48-year-old South Korean family member of a missing teenager, Kim Hyun-mee, was impatient as time was running out. "We parents are also dying here on the shore. The time is ticking and we're burning out. This time is reversible. The kids are still down there in the cold water," said Kim. Marine investigators and the coastguard have said it was too early to pinpoint a cause for the accident and declined to comment on the possibility of the cargo shifting. Some media reports have said the vessel turned sharply, causing cargo to shift and the ship to list before capsizing.
SOUTH KOREA: Distraught relatives go to identify ferry victims Distressed relatives of passengers who died in South Korea's ferry disaster were taken to identify the bodies of their loved ones on Thursday (April 17). The ferry, which was travelling from the port of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju when it sank on Wednesday (April 16), was carrying a large group of teenagers from the same school. The prospect of hundreds of pupils in their late teens perishing in a single accident has only added to the sense of tragedy. One man said his grandson was one of those on board. "I was told that divers couldn't enter (the sunken ferry) and three bodies were found and moved out (from the water) at around 3p.m. So, I thought it could take time (to find my grandson) and I was just waiting. However, I've just got the phone call a little while ago that my grandson is here, in a mortuary," said 65-year-old Ham Young-ho. One distraught mother grieved for her daughter who was an employee of the ferry company. "My baby Ji-young, my baby Ji-youngIt seems like my baby gets up and comes to me while calling me 'mum'. Why don't you come?" she said, breaking down in tears. The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized. Coastguards recovered five more bodies late on Thursday, raising the death toll to 14 people. Another 179 passengers have been rescued, leaving 282 unaccounted for and possibly trapped in the vessel. But bad weather has hampered rescue efforts as divers struggled with strong waves and murky waters. There has been no official explanation for the sinking, although officials denied reports the ship, built in Japan 20 years ago, was sharply off its authorised route. The captain of the ship, Lee Joon-seok, 69, faces a criminal investigation, coastguard officials said, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first to jump to safety from the stricken vessel.
SOUTH KOREA: South Korean officials says at least three people dead and hundreds missing after a passenge ferry sinks of the country's southwest coast South Korea says at least three people have been confirmed dead after a ferry sank off South Korea on Wednesday (April 16). Almost 300 people are missing after the ferry Sewol sank on Wednesday, the coast guard said, in what could be the country's biggest peacetime disaster in nearly 20 years. The ferry was carrying 459 people, of whom 164 were rescued, coast guard officials said. The ferry listed heavily onto its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast. The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear although some survivors reported that the ship appeared to have been involved in some sort of impact. "One more dead was added just a moment ago, so the death toll reached three; One female employee from the ferry company, one junior student in Danwon High School, and one who hasn't been identified, but presumed a male student," said minister of Security and Public Administration, Kang Byung-kyu. Many of the passengers were children and their teachers from a high school in Seoul on a field trip to Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula. As well as the passengers, there were 150 vehicles on board the ferry, officials said. Witnesses said many people were likely still inside the vessel. The area of the accident was clear of fog, unlike further north up the coast where heavy fog had led to the cancellation of many ferry services. The ship has a capacity of about 900 people, an overall length of 146 metres (480 feet) and it weighs 6,586 gross tonnes. Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.