Hundreds still missing in deadly Korea ferry accident

JINDO, South Korea,  (Reuters) – Rescuers were hammering on the upturned hull of a capsized South Korea ferry today hoping for a response from hundreds of people, mostly teenage schoolchildren, believed trapped after the vessel started sinking more than 24 hours previously.

Coastguard and navy divers were diving into the waters at the site of the accident, about 20 km (12 miles) off the country’s southwestern coast, searching for any sign of the 290 missing people. The vessel capsized on Wednesday during a short journey from the port of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju.

Grieving parents accused officials of being slow to react and for lack of information.

“I am really angry with the government,” said Kwak Hyun-ok, whose daughter who was one of 340 children and teachers from one school on the vessel.

“There is no meaning to life without my daughter,” Kwak told Reuters.

Of the 475 passengers and crew on the vessel, nine were listed as dead and 179 had been rescued, according to the South Korean government.

The government said three cranes were being moved to the site of the accident and would arrive on Friday, although efforts were continuing to establish whether there were any survivors on the stricken vessel.

Media reports said submersibles were pumping oxygen into the hull, although the coastguard declined to comment.

There is still no official explanation for the sinking. The ship, built in Japan 20 years ago, was following a well travelled route. Although the wider area has rock hazards and shallow waters, they were not in the immediate vicinity of its usual path.

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