Diver Dies: Ferry Search of Doomed South Korean Ship Turns Fatal

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 03:14 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A diver died Tuesday in the ongoing ferry search effort near South Korea, where as of late Monday the confirmed death toll rose to 260, while an additional 42 remain missing.

According to South Korean officials, the diver was a 53-year-old known only by his surname, Lee, the BBC reported. Lee was unconscious when he was removed from the water. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

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Ko Myung Suk, director general of the Korea Coast Guard, said the diver's cause of death has yet to be determined and remains under investigation, Bloomberg News reported.

According to Myung Suk, the diver lost radio contact five minutes after diving to fix guideline ropes on the fifth deck of the sunken ferry, Reuters reported.

Lee, who worked for the private salvage company Undine Marine Industries, is the first diver to die in the search effort.

One day after the ferry sank, the teacher responsible for organizing the ferry took his own life, having reportedly felt responsible for the deaths of his many students.

On April 16, the Sewol Ferry capsized in the freezing Yellow Sea while carrying 476 people onboard, of which more than 300 were students. The rest were teachers and crew members. Only 174 survived, including 22 of the 29 crew members.

Within weeks of the maritime disaster, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned over the government's response to the tragic incident.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, amid increasing public anger over the way in which the government handled the disaster, expressed her outrage.

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"Safety rules that must be observed were not followed because of worldly desires and irresponsible acts that tolerated those injustices have resulted in death," Geun-hye said during her address at a temple in Seoul on Tuesday where she was celebrating Buddha's birthday, Reuters noted.

As of Tuesday, some 19 individuals have been arrested on charges of suspected negligence and abandoning passengers in connection with the ferry sinking, The Associated Press reported.

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