S’ Korea ferry: Body count reaches 113

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The confirmed death toll from the South Korean ferry that capsized last week has reached 113, as divers recovered more bodies from the sunken hull.

Rescuers searching for bodies have been able to take advantage of better weather on Tuesday, officials say, with more than 190 passengers still missing or presumed trapped inside the vessel.

The ferry tipped over and sank within two hours, but it is not yet clear why, BBC reports.

The crew have been criticised for allegedly failing to save passengers.  Five have been charged with not fulfilling their duty to evacuate passengers safely, officials told the South Korean Yonhap news agency.

At least six other crew members are reported to have been detained. As the ship listed passengers were told to remain in rooms and cabins, reports suggest, amid confusion on the bridge over whether to order them to abandon ship.

The first distress call from the sinking ferry was made by a boy with a shaking voice, officials told Reuters.

It reported that his plea for help was followed by about 20 other emergency calls from children on board the ship.

 A crew member quoted by local media said that attempts to launch lifeboats were unsuccessful because of the tilt of the ship. Only two of the vessel’s 46 lifeboats were reported to have been deployed.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday condemned the conduct of some of the crew, calling it “akin to murder”.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in nearby Jindo island says that the rescue operation has now become something of a grim routine, with police boats regularly returning from the scene of the disaster with bodies recovered by military divers.

Most of the families of those still missing have accepted that no more survivors will be found.

A total of 174 passengers were rescued from the Sewol, which capsized as it sailed from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju.

But there were 476 people on board, including 339 children and teachers on a school trip. Many were trapped inside the ship as it listed to one side and then sank.

Divers have managed to reach many of the cabins in the hull of the upturned ferry, although they are still trying to get into the ship’s restaurant, where they believe many of the passengers were trapped.

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