Sewol Ferry Bodies Have Been Going to Wrong Families: Reports

Image: Sewol Ferry Bodies Have Been Going to Wrong Families: Reports A student pays tribute in Ansan, at a temporary group memorial altar for victims of capsized passenger ship Sewol, April 25, 2014.

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 12:25 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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South Korean officials have acknowledged that some of the bodies pulled from the ferry Sewol have been misidentified, adding to the anguish of families who lost loved ones in the April 16 accident.

South Korean media outlets have reported misidentified bodies ended up going to the wrong families, with no one noticing until the bodies arrived at the funeral home, wrote The Associated Press.

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South Korean divers have located 185 bodies so far — 48 girls were discovered crammed into a cabin Friday — but another 117 remain missing and are believed to be still in the dark rooms of the Sewol ferry, CNN reported.

"There have been cases where the victims were wrongly transferred," stated a government emergency task force set up to correct the problem. Officials told the AP that an action plan has been put in place using DNA testing, fingerprinting and dental records to make sure the right bodies end up with the correct relatives.

South Korean prosecutors last week asked the court to issue arrest warrants for the Sewol's captain, Lee Joon-Seok, and two other crew members who survived. The 69-year-old captain expressed his shame after he was criticized for allegedly being among the first to abandon the ship and initially ordering passengers to stay in their rooms.

Search officials told The Associated Press that divers have searched 35 of the ferry's 111 rooms so far. More than 80 percent of the 302 dead and missing are students from a single high school.

Chun Kwan-geung, a civilian diver, told CNN that rescuers have had to break out windows to get to the ferry's lower desk. The ship is currently lying on its right side on the sea floor about 239 feet below the surface.

"The rescue effort is getting slower," South Korean navy Capt. Kim Jin-hwang told CNN. "The divers already searched all the places easily accessible. They are expecting the search to become harder because of increasing currents and harsher weather. But the navy will not stop until the last body is found."

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