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Confirmed death toll in South Korea’s Sewol ferry tragedy stands at 242

May 04, 2014, 7:32 UTC+3 SEOUL
The actions of the Coast Guard, Navy and other services were strongly criticized by the relatives of those killed and missing in the tragedy
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© EPA/KIM CHUL-SOO

SEOUL, May 04. /ITAR-TASS/. The death toll in the tragic incident with South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16, reached the figure of 242 as divers discovered six more bodies on early Sunday, the government’s response headquarters reported.

Authorities earlier expressed concerns that not all of the missing people would be found as some of the bodies were discovered over the past days about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the crash scene. The number of people unaccounted for stands at 60.

The 6,825-ton Sewol was carrying 476 passengers, when it began sinking. Of them 174, including the vessel’s crew and the captain, were rescued immediately, but since then no one had been found alive.

Rescue works had been often hampered by rising tides and strong currents in the area, where the vessel sank.

A week ago South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won offered his resignation, holding himself responsible for the government’s poor response to the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry

The investigation, conducted by the prosecutor’s office and police, discovered many violations in activities of the ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, which turned out to be a monopolist on this ferry route. All 15 crewmembers, including Sewol captain, are under investigation, most of them are in a pre-trial custody.

The actions of the Coast Guard, Navy and other services were strongly criticized by the relatives of those killed and missing in the tragedy. Over the weekend the relatives gathered on the Jindo Island where the government’s response headquarters are located.

According to Yonhap news agency, families accused the government of insufficient actions to rescue the victims of the tragedy at the first signs of the vessel’s sinking, their anger deepened as the ship's crew, including the captain, were the first ones to be rescued.

The ferry was built in 1994 in Japan and in 2012 was bought by the South Korean company. Immediately after that the vessel was redesigned - new cabins were added and, according to experts, it worsened the vessel’s floating stability.

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