Time running out as death toll rises to 87

April 21, 2014
Workers carry dead bodies found inside the ship Monday. / Yonhap

Workers carry dead bodies found inside the ship Monday. / Yonhap

The death toll following the sinking of the ferry boat Sewol near Jindo island last Wednesday has reached 87 as hopes of finding survivors diminishes by the hour.

The number rescued remains at 174, while 215 are still missing.

Rescue divers found a group of dead bodies on the third and floors of the underwater ship Monday.

Thirteen bodies were found inside three cabins on the fourth floor, and 10 were found inside the lounge on the third floor, officials said.

Three additional bodies, two of them confirmed foreign nationals, were also found.

Rescue divers involved in the effort Monday included 556 Navy, Coast Guard, private vessels and other divers. Five guide lines have now been installed onto the ship.

Meanwhile, the most recent analysis of the Sewol’s Automatic Identification System, or AIS, shows that the ship made a 45-degree “J-shaped” turn instead of the previously thought 115-degree sharp right turn, investigators said Monday.

Reasons for its sudden change in direction — which officials say is the most likely cause of the sinking — are still unclear, but it had been thought that the ship had swerved to avoid a rock or a fishing boat.

Instead, that the ferry made a gentler turnaround means that something with the steering wheel or ship mechanics went wrong when the mate in charge of the steering wheel made the turn, according to investigators.

An official close to the investigation said the steering wheel may have turned the ship more than intended but that it is not possible to know exactly how the wheel was handled.

Divers collected 28 bodies Monday, raising the death toll to 87. Two hundred and fifteen remain missing inside the ferry.