Death toll from South Korean ferry disaster surpasses 100


South Korean rescue members carry the body of a victim recovered from the “Sewol” ferry to an ambulance at a harbour in Jindo on April 22, 2014. Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Confirmed fatalities from the South Korean ferry Sewol have reached 104, officials said Tuesday, with nearly 200 still missing. Since divers found a way to enter the ferry, which sunk off the coast of South Korea April 16, this weekend, the number of bodies recovered has sharply risen.

Families waiting for the bodies of loved ones on Jindo island — an hour’s boat ride away from the fully submerged ferry — are no longer dreaming of rescues. Instead, they are hoping the missing bodies will be recovered before the ocean damages them further.

“At first, I was just very sad, but now it’s like an endless wait,” said Woo Dong-suk, an uncle of one of the students. “It’s been too long already. The bodies must be decayed. The parents’ only wish right now is to find the bodies before they are badly decomposed.”

Nine crew members, including the ship’s captain plus two more who were arrested Tuesday, now face charges related to the disaster. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has condemned their actions as “akin to murder.”

One crew member blamed the tilt of the ship for the failure to deploy the lifeboats as the ship was sinking last Wednesday. Crew members attempted to reach them, he said Tuesday. “But we slipped so we could not do that.”

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, is also under heavy criticism for telling passengers to stay in their rooms while the Sewol sank.

A series of funerals were held Tuesday for the high school students and a crew member who died in the ferry disaster. Of the more than 300 missing or dead, about 250 are students from a high school in Ansan, just south of Seoul.

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