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Poor conditions hamper search for missing South Korea ferry passengers

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Poor conditions hamper search for missing South Korea ferry passengers


Rescuers have been hammering on the upturned hull of a capsized South Korean ferry, looking for a response from nearly 300 mostly high school students still missing.

The search has been hampered by strong currents and bad visibility.

More than 24 hours after the disaster the number of confirmed dead has risen to nine, with 287 unaccounted for.

The coastguard would not comment on reports that oxygen has been pumped inside the ship in the hope that passengers may be alive but trapped.

The coastguard believes the ship had strayed from its recommended route. Investigators suspect the accident may have been caused by steering too sharply, prompting the ferry to change direction too quickly, and that cargo then came loose, tipping the ferry off balance.

Families of those missing were taken to the site. Some hired their own boat, frustrated at the response of officials.

Some are angry too, accusing the authorities of being slow to react and give information.

Nearly 350 children and teachers came from the same school near Seoul.

The numbers do little to relieve the parents’ despair. “There is no meaning to life without my daughter,” said one.

At Ansan where the school is located, ambulances brought the bodies of three students – bringing home the horror of the reality to the watching families.

There has been some good news. Six-year-old Kwon Ji-Yeon is being treated in hospital in Mokpo near the coastal city of Jindo.

Video footage showed the girl being rescued from the ferry as it sank, but her parents remain missing.

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