Divers search new areas of South Korean ferry

SEOUL, South Korea — Divers battled strong currents and wind Saturday to search unopened rooms in a sunken South Korean ferry for dozens of missing passengers, officials said Saturday.

The divers will focus on opening up six rooms on the third and fourth floors while again combing places already searched, said emergency task force spokesperson Ko Myung-seok. The task force says 58 out of 64 target areas have been searched.

“It took a while to develop routes, but after the routes were developed to some degree, opening up the rooms and getting inside worked out in a short period of time,” Ko said.

The emergency task force said in a news release that eight bodies were retrieved from the rooms in the third and the fourth floor on Saturday. So far bodies of 236 victims have been retrieved; 195 were found inside the ferry while 41 were found floating in the sea. The release said search will continue in the night.

Task force spokesperson Park Seung-ki said families are worried about the condition of the lost bodies, since so much time has passed.

“To ease the families’ mental pain and help them keep better memories of the victims, the government will provide restoration services of damaged bodies,” Park said.

The South Korean passenger liner Sewol was carrying 476 people, mostly from a single high school, when it sank on April 16. Only 174 people survived, including 22 of the 29 crew members.

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