|Death toll rises to 269 in SKorean ferry disaster
Death toll continued to rise to 269 Wednesday in the South Korean ferry sinking disaster as divers searched the submerged ship amid slower tidal currents in the area.
In the 22nd day into search, 269 people have been confirmed dead and 33 others are still missing. No survivor has been reported since 174 people were saved from the ship and sea on April 16, Xinhua reports.
The 6,825-ton passenger ferry Sewol capsized and sank in waters off Jindo Island, the country's southwestern tip. Two thirds of the 476 passengers aboard the ill-fated vessel were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city south of Seoul.
Search operations became active as tidal currents slowed from Wednesday. The speed of currents in the area was expected to fall as low as 1.2 meters per second after staying at 2-3 meters. The area is famous for the country's second-fastest currents.
Koh Myung-seok, spokesman of the pan-government accident response center, told a press briefing that a total of 116 divers will be dispatched to make all-out efforts for search operations in the period of slower currents.
The search and rescue team, composed of coast guard, military and civilian volunteer divers, completed the first-stage search into 64 passenger cabins where many bodies were believed to be trapped.
The divers planned to search into part of the cabins again and 47 communal spaces such as toilet and restaurant.