The number of deaths that have been confirmed in the sinking of the South Korean ferry, Sewol, crossed the three-digit mark Tuesday media reports said, although details about the actual death toll and the number of missing people varied across reports.
Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday that the confirmed death toll had reached 104 and more than 200 people remained missing while a report from Time said 105 people were dead and 197 people were missing. A report from Associated Press, citing officials, put the death toll at 104 and said nearly 200 people were still missing. The ferry, which was carrying 376 people, most of them school children, on a trip to the island of Jeju, sank on April 16 after a sudden and unexpected turn, which is believed to have destabilized the 20-year-old 6,825-ton vessel.
According to AP, 250 of the more than 300 missing or dead are students from a high school near Seoul. On Monday, President Park Guen-hye said the actions of the ship's captain, Lee Joon-seok, and crew, who reportedly asked passengers to stay in their rooms, delayed a call for evacuation and left the vessel ahead of the passengers, amounted to murder.
According to Time, the investigation into the incident, which is the worst maritime disaster in the country since 1993 and has resulted in the arrest of seven crew members, including the captain, has barred the family that owns the ferry’s operating company from leaving the country. The report, citing the Korea Herald, added that the ship's captain could face life in prison.
"Underwater operations will focus on the third and fourth floors, while vessels will search waters to prevent bodies from drifting away," the government's disaster management team said, in a briefing, according to Yonhap. "Search operations will go smoothly as waves in the rescue site are forecast to be about 0.5 meter high, and the speed of the currents is slow."
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