South Korea: Operation to recover submerged ferry 'could take two months'

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South Korea: Operation to recover submerged ferry 'could take two months'

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The operation to recover the South Korean ferry which sank on Wednesday could take two months, officials have said.

Divers have been struggling with strongtides and murky waters as they continue to search for nearly 270 passengers, mostly schoolchildren, who are still missing.

Earlier, relatives, who have begun giving DNA samples to help identify the dead, watched underwater footage from search teams in the vessel.

The divers reported seeing three bodies but were unable to retrieve them. Officials have admitted the chances of finding anyone inside the Sewol ferry alive is now ‘almost zero’.

Earlier on Saturday, more bodies were recovered from the third deck of the ship bringing the official number of dead to 33.

476 passengers and crew were on board the boat when it capsized. One theory into the cause of the accident is heavy cargo – including 150 cars – may have destabilised the vessel when it turned sharply.

The ferry’s 69-year-old captain, who has been arrested and faces charges of negligence along with two other crew members, has confirmed he was not at the helm of the ferry when it first ran into trouble.

He also says he delayed the evacuation fearing passengers would drift away. But, it is thought by the time the order was eventually given the ship was listing at too steep an angle for many to escape the boat’s tight hallways and stairs.