Even experienced divers are saying they have never had to work in the conditions they are experiencing as they recover bodies from the wreck of the Sewol ferry in South Korea.
With visibility hardly extending beyond their reach the divers are having to contend with a maze of corridors and cabins, often only finding a trapped body, most often that of a child, when it looms out of the dark and bumps into their face masks.
It is heartbreaking work, and the heartbreak continues as the bodies are brought ashore and waiting relatives have their remaining crumbs of hope crushed.
Some 160 people are still unaccounted for.
“The relatives had hoped there may be survivors still inside the ship. But some of the relatives have started to give up and started accepting the reality. They now wish to at least recover the bodies for funerals. For us, watching all that brings tears to our eyes,” said the head of the Korean church relief team Cho Hyun-sam.
At the water’s edge prayer vigils accompany the recovery operation, now in its eighth day, and the entire nation remains stunned by the magnitude of the disaster.