Rescue workers carry the bodies of passengers from the
capsized ferry, at a port where family members of missing
passengers are gathered, in Jindo. REUTERS/Issei Kato
South Korean divers retrieved three bodies from inside a
sunken ferry overnight, officials said, the first time they
have been able to gain entry to the passenger section of the
What was a search-and-rescue mission has now turned into an
attempt to retrieve more than 200 bodies - many of them
children - from the wreck of the ferry that capsized on
Wednesday on a routine trip in calm waters.
"At 11:48pm (local time) the joint rescue team broke a glass
window and succeeded in getting inside the vessel," the South
Korean government said in a statement.
The discovery of the bodies brought to 36 the official death
toll from what looks to be South Korea's deadliest maritime
accident in 21 years. There are still 266 unaccounted for
among the 476 people now believed to have been on the ferry.
Hundreds of despairing relatives gathered in a gymnasium in
the port city of Jindo in southwestern Korea have spent four
days and nights awaiting news of their relatives on the ship.
Many of those unaccounted for on the ship are children from a
high school in the city of Ansan, a commuter town on the edge
of the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Out of the people on the vessel, 339 were either pupils or
The vice principal of the school who was on the ferry and
survived the capsize hanged himself and was discovered on
Friday outside the gymnasium in Jindo.
Early reports suggest that the ferry, on a 400-km (300-mile)
voyage from the mainland port of Incheon to the Korean resort
island of Jeju, may have turned sharply and then listed
Investigations are looking at how the cargo was stowed, the
safety record of the ship operator and the actions of the
Three crew members, including the 69-year-old captain, were
arrested on Saturday and charged with crimes relating to
Witnesses say the captain, Lee Joon-seok, and other crew
members left the sinking ship before many of the passengers
and that orders to evacuate were either not given, or not
Lee said he feared that passengers would be swept away by the
ferocious currents in the area if they leapt into the sea,
but has not explained why he left the vessel.