SEOUL – South Korean recovery workers strengthened a ring of netting on Monday around a submerged ferry, in a bid to prevent corpses drifting out to open sea, as dive teams recovered 11 more bodies, raising the death toll to 259.
The latest bodies were found during a pre-dawn operation Monday, but 43 people remain unaccounted for. It has been 19 days since the 6,825-tonne Sewol capsized and sank with 476 people on board – most of them schoolchildren.
Recovery workers using fishing boats strengthened a ring of netting around the site off the southern island of Jindo, amid concerns that powerful currents may have pulled some bodies into the open sea.
"They are putting extra netting near the site to prevent the loss of bodies," maritime ministry spokesman Park Seung-ki told a morning briefing.
The operation followed a meeting in a Jindo harbour on Sunday between President Park Geun-hye and the relatives of passengers still missing. The relatives are insisting that all the bodies should be recovered before efforts begin to raise the sunken ferry.
The search has been hampered by fast currents and high waves, while dive teams have been working in challenging and sometimes hazardous conditions.
They have to grope their way down guiding ropes to the sunken ship, struggling through narrow passageways and rooms littered with floating debris in silty water.
As days go by, personal belongings and other items from the ship have been spotted further and further away, fuelling concerns that some victims of the ferry disaster may never be found.
Last week bodies were retrieved up to 4km away from the recovery site, and bedding materials from the ship were found as far as 30km away. — AFP