272 dead, 32 missing

May 6, 2014

Updates on developments in the ferry boat sinking.

5/8 - It has been 23 days since the sinking. The body count has risen to 272.

5/7 - The search continues Thursday in Korea as the number confirmed dead rises to 269.

5/6 - As the search entered its 21st day, 263 people have been confirmed dead, with 39 still missing.

5/5 –  (Yonhap) — Twelve more bodies were retrieved from the sunken ferry Sewol on Monday, raising the death toll to 262 and lowering the number of those missing to 40, 19 days after the ship sank off South Korea’s southwest coast.

Divers have completed an initial search of 61 of the 64 compartments where people are expected to be found, officials said. The Sewol has a total of 111 compartments.

5/3 – 8:00 a.m. PST: Divers participating in the search of a sunken ferry face growing health risks from swimming in cold, murky waters for extended stretches, with several suffering from decompression sickness, officials said according to Yonhap.

Navy, Coast Guard and civilian divers recovered eight more bodies Saturday, bringing the death toll to 236. Sixty-six people are still missing.

5/2 – 2:38 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports 228 dead and 74 missing.

7:00 p.m. PST: Five more bodies were recovered from a sunken ferry on Friday amid concerns that swift currents will hamper search operations and may have swept many bodies far away from the sinking site.

With 76 people still remaining missing, concerns have grown that the bodies of possible victims could be lost. Fueling such fears was the recovery of a body earlier in the day from waters about 2 miles from the accident site. Two days ago, one body was spotted about one mile away.

5/1 – 8:44 a.m. PST: Yonhap reports 221 dead and 81 missing.

2:19 p.m. PST: One more body has been found, bringing the death toll to 213 and number missing to 89.

Harsh weather conditions persist near the ship, reports say.

4/30 - 8:54 a.m. PST: A fisherman who had been helping control the spread of oil from the ship around the area found a body in the water 2 km away from the wreck, Yonhap reports.

A diving bell was launched yesterday but was lifted back up after 20 minutes. It will be relaunched in a few hours, Yonhap said.

The diving bell would allow 50 minutes of searching for divers.

11:29 p.m. PST: Death toll is now 212 with missing at 90, Yonhap says.

Divers are still searching inside the fourth floor and have also expanded to the fifth floor lobby, it said.

2:56 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports that the death toll is up to 210, with 92 missing.

The diving bell was put into the wreckage at noon Wednesday Korean time, it said.

4/29 – 8:51 a.m. PST: Body count has risen to 205 and the number missing is 97, Yonhap reports.

3:55 p.m. PST: With bad weather preventing much progress, the Korean government is considering a discussion with victims’ families on the duration of the search mission, which has now gone on for two weeks with no new survivors.

During a briefing Monday, police said they brought up the possibility of using explosives to open a door into a part of the ship that may hold more bodies but met opposition from families.

Cutters have also been discussed, but no decision has yet been made, they said.

Meanwhile, seven rescue divers have been injured during the attempt, including one diver whose forehead ripped open during a search and six who are showing symptoms of decompression sickness.

Authorities said they planned to search rooms on the fifth floor Sunday but, upon requests from parents who insisted more students were in the middle of the fourth floor, will continue with the fourth floor today.

2:08 p.m. PST: Four more bodies have been found, bringing the body count to 193 and missing to 109, Korean media says.

4/28 – 8:58 a.m. PST: As of early morning Tuesday in Korea, 189 bodies have been found and 113 remain missing, according to Yonhap.

They also report the last message sent by a Danwon student on the ship — a Kakaotalk message that reads, “They said to wait. After that, no more announcements are being made.”

The message was sent at 10:17 a.m., 50 minutes after rescue boats had arrived on the scene at 9:30 a.m.

In addition, the diving bell will be relaunched today after a failed attempt Friday.

4/27  - 9:00 p.m. PST:  Only one body was retrieved in the on-and-off search operations over the weekend, and adverse weather conditions thwarted overnight attempts to resume search efforts, leaving the death toll at 188 and the number of the missing at 114.

4/26 - 9:45 a.m. PST: Search and rescue operations  were hampered again by bad weather Saturday, with more than 110 people still remaining missing, 11 days after the ferry Sewol sank in southern waters.

Coast Guard, Navy and civilian divers continued to scour the third and fourth-deck cabins where most of the missing are believed to remain trapped, but they were barred from entering many cabins due to strong currents and limited visibility, officials said.

1:53 p.m. PST: The death toll has risen to 187 while 115 remain missing, Yonhap says.

8:50 a.m. PST: Thirty-five out of 111, or 31.5 percent, of rooms inside the ferry have been searched, divers said.

In a meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye Friday afternoon, President Obama proposed holding a 30-second moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives in the ferry boat tragedy. He then presented Park with an American flag that had been raised at the White House as a sign of Americans’ condolence and brought Danwon High School a magnolia tree.

4/25 - 12:01 a.m. PST: At least 185 passengers had been confirmed dead, with 117 others still missing, said the task force, according to Yonhap.

“A total of 88 divers were put into the underwater search operation,” Koh Myung-suk, a senior Coast Guard official of the task force, told a press briefing, adding that the operation was focused on cabins on the third and fourth decks.

6:09 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports that civilian rescue divers and diving bells are now being lowered into the ship.

4:42 p.m. PST: Korean media is reporting that the ferry boat could be carrying up to 37 more passengers than originally thought, bringing the total number onboard to more than 500.

An official was quoted as saying that 37 tickets not registered with the shipping company and not containing personal identification were found when boarding tickets for the ferry were checked.

So far, two unidentified bodies not included in the official count of 476 passengers have been found this week.

The Korean government has not confirmed the report.

3:31 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports one more body found, raising the death toll to 181 and the number missing to 121.

4/24 – 9:02 a.m. PST: With Korean media reporting 180 dead and 122 missing, the investigators have turned to the Coast Guard to investigate how they handled rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, a simulation of the ship’s sinking will help determine the exact cause of the incident, officials said Friday morning Korean time.

9:21 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports 169 dead, 133 missing and no new survivors as divers continue to pull bodies out of the ship.

8:29 p.m. PST: More bodies have been found, Korean media reports. No new survivors, 135 missing, 167 dead.

7:37 p.m. PST: Death toll has risen to 162, missing now 140, Yonhap reports.

9:18 a.m. PST: Yonhap reports that divers will enter the students section, located near the center of the fourth floor of the ship, for the first time beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday Korean time.

The number of divers going in for this search will be the largest since the accident.

4/23 – 8:44 a.m. PST: The death toll has reached 159, with 143 still missing and the number rescued unchanged at 174.

Rescue divers said they did not see any signs of air pockets while inside the ship, Yonhap reported early Thursday Korean time.

9:30 p.m. PST: Rescue workers are speeding up the process and have abandoned the ineffective advanced technologies like the remotely-operated vehicle robots they were using, Korean media says.

Instead, divers are now feeling for bodies with their hands on the third and fourth floors, where low visibility still remains a problem.

7:11 p.m. PST: Death toll from sunken ship rises to 150. Eleven more bodies found all appear to be students, according to Yonhap.

5:51 p.m. PST: Three more bodies have been found. The death toll is at 139, with 163 missing, Yonhap says.

5:36 p.m. PST: Early reports say the body count has risen to 136, with 166 still missing.

3:49 p.m. PST: Nationwide safety training and education for ship crew members is in neglect, Yonhap reports.

Chonghaejin Marine Co., the shipping company that owns the Sewol, said Wednesday that it spent about $541 on safety education and training last year in comparison to about $230,000 in advertisements and about $60,600 in entertainment.

The current requirement for crewmembers to board a ship is safety education once every five years, Yonhap says.

1:57 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports seven more bodies found, raising the death toll to 128 and changing the number missing to 174.

9:55 a.m. PST: Rescue divers have finally gained entry into the third floor cafeteria, where it is suspected most passengers are trapped, Yonhap reports.

According to officials Wednesday morning Korean time, divers are in the process of searching for survivors inside the third floor.

In addition, the U.S. Navy has sent a 3,300-ton rescue and salvage ship to aid in the rescue mission, said the Korean defense ministry Tuesday.

4/22 – 9:02 a.m. PST: The death toll is up to 121 dead, 181 missing and no new survivors.

The three foreigners found have been identified as a Russian Danwon student, a Korean Chinese, 38, and a Chinese, 46.

10:03 p.m. PST: Early reports say divers have found three more bodies, putting the number dead at 108, missing at 194 and rescued at 174.

8:08 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports 105 dead, 197 missing and no new survivors.

There were five foreign nationals on board, and three have been found. A foreigner who was not a part of the 476 previously confirmed is one of the bodies.

5:32 p.m. PST: 104 dead, 198 missing, no new survivors, Korean media reports.

5:23 p.m. PST: 100 dead, 202 missing and no new survivors, Yonhap says.

5:02 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports 99 dead, 203 missing, 174 rescued.

4:56 p.m. PST: Three more bodies have been found, Korean media reports. Ninety eight dead, 204 missing, still no more rescues.

4:46 p.m. PST: Now up to 95 dead and 207 missing, Yonhap reports.

4:42 p.m. PST: New reports say 94 dead, 208 missing, 174 rescued.

4:35 p.m. PST: According to shipping company Chongjaejin Marine Co., Sewol was carrying 30 vehicles over its limit of cargo, Yonhap reports.

The ferry was carrying 3,608 tons of cargo, including 124 sedans, 22 1-ton cargo vehicles and 34 2.5-plus-ton cargo vehicles.

CCTV captured some containers that were not included in the departure records.

4:11 p.m. PST: Early reports by Korean media say divers have found an additional 3 bodies, raising the death toll to 90 and changing number missing to 212.

3:59 p.m. PST: Two remotely-operated vehicle robots have been launched while the divers continue their search for survivors on the third and fourth floors of the ship, Yonhap says.

2:56 p.m. PST: President Obama, who plans to visit Seoul Friday to Sunday, will reportedly spend a large part of his time expressing condolences over the ferry boat tragedy, according to Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication.

4/21 – 2:38 p.m. PST: The waves have calmed, according to Korean media. About 550 rescue divers will be sent into the submerged ship starting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday Korean time.

In addition, 44 central figures involved in the incident, including the crew mates and the chief engineer, have been forbidden from leaving the country as investigations continue, Yonhap reports.

5:50 p.m. PST: Yonhap reports that 280 divers are preparing to go into the ship. They will install four more guide lines to make it possible for 8 to 10 divers to enter the ship at once, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

3:58 p.m. PST: Divers have spotted three dead bodies through a glass window inside what they believe to be a passenger section on the fourth story of the ship. All were wearing life jackets.

It is the first time during the rescue that bodies have been found inside the ferry. They were unable to recover the dead because they could not break the windows, said Choi Sang-hwan, deputy of the Korean Coast Guard.

He said they plan to go back to retrieve the bodies.

Workers will begin casting nets around the area of the incident to prevent floating bodies from becoming lost, Choi said.

3:26 p.m. PST: Early reports from Korean media say rescue workers have found some dead bodies in a passenger room on the fourth floor of the ship.

3:22 p.m. PST: The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters says it will withhold names of the dead and release only last names to the public, Yonhap says.

1:54 p.m. PST: The captain has become the first person charged with violation of maritime law, Korean media reports.

10:54 a.m. PST: Lee Jun-suk, captain of the sunken ferry boat, said he gave the order to evacuate and told passengers to stay put because rescue boats had not yet arrived at that point in time, Yonhap reports.

“I accept some of the charges against me,” he said. “I bow my head and apologize to the nation and to the families of the deceased.”

Lee said he first felt that something was wrong with the ferry around 8:50 a.m. Wednesday. He went to his bedroom while the ship was changing course, at which point the cause of the sinking likely occurred.

He said he had not been drinking.

Meanwhile, Lee and two other key crew members — Park and Cho — who were among the first to escape have been charged with various violations including dereliction of duty, Yonhap reports.

9:55 a.m. PST: Rescuers connected a 19 mm air hose and began injecting oxygen into the ship at 11:19 a.m. Friday Korean time, according to Yonhap.

They also attached a 35-ton lift bag onto the ship, but it remains completely underwater despite their efforts.

Twenty-one divers attempted entry into the second story of the ferry at 3:38 p.m. Friday Korean time but retreated after the guiding line broke.

At 8 p.m. Friday Korean time, they re-entered through the third story but had to retreat again due to the backflow of the injected air in the ship.

Divers plan on attempting another entry throughout the night, and more air will be injected into the ship Saturday morning Korean time.

9:34 a.m. PST: The captain told officials that he told passengers to escape, not stay seated, Yonhap reports. Rescued passengers said they were told to stay put.

8:50 a.m. PST: Death toll now at 29, missing at 273, rescued at 174. The decrease in the number rescued is due to errors in counting survivors with the same names.

8:38 a.m. PST: The number on-board has been changed to 476, missing at 274, rescued at 174.

2:24 a.m. PST: Korean media reports that investigators will also question key crew members aside from the captain.

1:49 a.m. PST: A video of the captain, Lee Jun-suk, boarding the first rescue boat in civilian clothes while being directed by rescuers has emerged. In the video, he gives no indication to the rescuers that he is the captain of the boat. Lee is currently undergoing investigation by authorities.

In addition, officials have announced that one of the 28 dead was not a part of the passenger list, Yonhap says.

1:27 a.m. PST: Police said they found Kang’s body after receiving a call saying he had been missing since Thursday night. Kang was rescued from the ferry boat and questioned about the circumstances of the rescue by police on Wednesday, Yonhap reports.

1:05 a.m. PST: Danwon High School Vice Principal, Kang, 52, was found dead hanged from a tree in Jindo Friday afternoon in Korean time, according to Korean media.

1 a.m. PST: Early reports state that one of the survivors, a Danwon High School teacher, has died. Authorities suspect suicide, Yonhap says. No letter was found at the scene.

12:52 a.m. PST: A thin film of oil is spreading around the sunken ferry boat. The Coast Guard confirms it is coming from the ship.

4/18 – 12:35 a.m. PST: The rescue team that entered the cargo section in the ship had to retreat after 14 minutes because the guide line broke off, Yonhap says.

11:56 p.m. PST: The rescue team has entered the second floor of the five-story ship but have yet to find survivors, Yonhap reports.

11:45 p.m. PST: Authorities say 25 lift bags each able to keep 35 tons afloat will be installed onto the ferry to keep it buoyant in order to improve conditions for rescue efforts.

10:09 p.m. PST: The confirmed list of the 475 passengers is as follows: 325 high school students, 14 teachers, 1 tour guide, 73 regular passengers, 33 cargo drivers and 29 members of the crew.

8:52 p.m. PST: The death toll is up to 28, missing at 268, rescued at 179.

7:41 p.m. PST: Korean media is reporting the death toll at 26, missing at 270, rescued at 179.

7:33 p.m. PST: The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said it started hosing air into the ship at 10:50 a.m. Korean time, Yonhap said.

7:15 p.m. PST: Investigators say the captain of the Sewol had given over control of the ship to the third mate before the sinking. They are now investigating why the captain had left the steering wheel.

7:01 p.m. PST: The divers have attempted to enter the ship 20 times but have been unsuccessful, Yonhap reports. The ship is now almost underwater.

5:12 p.m. PST: Of the 16 bodies found today, 10 have been identified. Eight are Danwon High School students, Yonhap says.

4:44 p.m. PST: Investigators will hold a briefing about the rescue efforts at 10 a.m. in Korea.

4:18 p.m. PST: The bow of the ship, which had been 10 m above the water, has now sunken down to 1 m above the surface, Yonhap reports.

3:41 p.m. PST: Three cranes that will recover the ship to the surface have arrived on-site. Another is scheduled to arrive in the afternoon (Korean time) at 4 p.m, Yonhap reports. There are concerns that lifting the ferry could cause seawater to infiltrate into the air pockets inside and cause problems for potential survivors still trapped inside.

3:00 p.m. PST: Rescue workers are currently trying to secure an entry into the ship. They have installed a guiding line down to the bridge of the ship but are struggling with the weather conditions. They plan to run an air hose into the ship to insert oxygen.

11:05 a.m. PST: There are now 555 divers looking for survivors, according to Yonhap.

10:43 a.m. PST: More details - According to the West Regional Korea Coast Guard, the search party has recovered 16 bodies since 6 p.m. last night. Of them, 10 are women and 6 are men.

9:47 a.m. PST: 25 dead, 271 missing, 179 rescued, according to Yonhap.

4/179 a.m. PST: According to Yonhap, 170 ships and 512 Navy and Coast Guard divers entered the ferry more than 10 times Thursday looking for survivors.

Their efforts to recover survivors has been unsuccessful due to low visibility, strong currents and winds. It is believed passengers could remain alive due to air pockets in parts of the ship.

Authorities said they are continuing rescue operations under the assumption that there is a possibility of survivors.



  1. Annnsow

    April 18, 2014 at 2:17 AM

    Thanks for the updates
    When are the divers going back to the ship? Are they into the ship right now or are they outside? Did they put air into the boat, are they still doing it?

    • Annnsow

      April 18, 2014 at 2:43 AM

      Giving my support to SKorea and all the victims… I am still hoping with them…