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South Korea ends search for bodies after Sewol ferry disaster

November 11, 2014

Seoul has announced it will stop searching for the bodies still missing after the Sewol ferry sank in April. The ferry's captain and crew await a court verdict for the incident that claimed over 300 lives.

Portraits of students who died in the mid-April Sewol ferry disaster, decorated by yellow ribbons dedicated to the victims, are pictured in central Seoul October 27, 2014
Portraits of students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster have been on display in SeoulImage: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Officials in South Korea announced the search would end on Tuesday for the remains of fatalities in April's Sewol ferry disaster.

The announcement came hours before a court verdict was due on crew members charged with homicide and willful negligence - abandonment of passengers - during the disaster. Prosecutors seek the death penalty for Sewol captain Lee Joon-Seok and life sentences for three other senior crew members.

The bodies of 295 people have been salvaged, but today, nearly seven months after the accident, nine are still missing.

Südkorea Gerichtsprozess Kapitän der Fähre 27.10.2014
The ferry's captain was indicted in May and could face the death penaltyImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Yonhap, Park Chul-hong

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Lee Ju-young told reporters there was only a remote chance of finding those bodies.

"The government deployed as many resources as possible ... to bring the last missing person to the families," Lee said. "But the situation in the ship has become too difficult for search operations to continue."

On April 16, the Sewol ferry capsized while en route from the South Korean mainland to the holiday island of Jeju. Of the 476 people on board, 325 were high school students. Only 75 of the students survived.

sb/lw (AP, AFP)

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