S. Korea ferry toll rises to 135

Associated Press


The confirmed death toll from the South Korean ferry disaster rose to 135 Wednesday, but there were many more bodies left to be retrieved as divers swam through dark rooms and passageways to search for nearly 170 people still missing.

The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol when it sank one week ago survived.

As descriptions of the newly recovered bodies were read over a loudspeaker, relatives rushed over to the main notice board and peered at the details that were being added by an official.

Some relatives cried out and ran from the tent. Others stood shell-shocked.

The number of bodies recovered has risen sharply since the weekend, when divers battling strong currents and low visibility were finally able to enter the submerged vessel.

Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry’s crew survived. Nine have been arrested or detained in connection with the investigation.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Four other crew members were detained Monday and arrested Tuesday, prosecutors said. Another two crew members were detained Tuesday.

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