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Broken fingers, bodies tied together reveal the horror of ferry sinking
They tried to hold on to anything, and each other
By Tae Hong
Hundreds of second-year high school students, helpless in a sinking ferry boat, trapped and young and terrified — it’s the narrative emerging from a week-long ferry disaster that has so far taken at least 180 lives.
As the days pass, so do the stories about the bodies found.
A rescue diver who entered the rooms on the third and fourth floors of the ship on Monday and Tuesday said most of the recovered bodies had fractured fingers.
Their fingers may have broken while they tried to hold on to whatever they could while the ship was sinking, he said.
The students’ injured fingers, which the diver described as being in “a mess,” may have also come through an effort to climb up to the doorway — which would have been above their heads as the boat leaned — and get out through the closed door.
Another diver, a 58-year-old man with 35 years of diving experience, said he found two students’ bodies Tuesday — a male and a female — tied to each other.
They died together, the strings of their life jackets binding them as one, helpless and trapped inside a hallway staircase of the boat.
He had to untie them because he couldn’t pull out both bodies at once.
“Imagine how scared and agonized and frightened these young students must have been,” he told Kyunghyang newspaper. “They must have tied themselves together to face the fear and live.”
He said he was on his third entry into the ship that day when he came across the male student’s body, clad in jeans and a life jacket. The diver had started pushing the body out out when he felt something heavy connected to the boy — a barefooted female.
With only 10 minutes left on his dive, he had to make the choice to separate them.
“I met the most surprising and most touching moment of my life inside that water,” the diver said. “I cried thinking, ‘These children didn’t want to float away from each other.’”
After carrying their bodies out of the water, he called his daughter to tell her what he’d seen.
“I hope they passed with peaceful minds,” he said of the students.