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Second diver killed in SKorea ferry disaster search

  • In this April 16, 2014 file photo, South Korean coast guard officers try to rescue passengers from the Sewol ferry as it sinks in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Yonhap, File)

SEOUL: A second diver was killed Friday while taking part in search operations involving a submerged ferry off South Korea’s southwestern coast.

While 288 bodies have been retrieved since the Sewol ferry sank last month, search teams have been unable to add to that number since May 21 - with 16 people still unaccounted for.

The diver, as yet unnamed, had been taking part in an operation to cut open windows at the rear of the ship’s hull when he complained of breathing difficulties.

He was taken to a local hospital by helicopter, but was pronounced dead shortly after 3:30 p.m.

Earlier this month, a 53-year-old civilian diver had also died at the search site after falling unconscious underwater.

Search teams have been working in mostly treacherous conditions for weeks due to strong currents.

The South Korean government’s disaster response team had announced earlier Friday that a nearly 5-meter opening had been cut at the bottom of the rear windows, raising hopes that the divers would be able to access previously unreachable areas over the weekend.

The team had also planned operations to be carried out at set times when the effects of currents would be lessened.

Consultations with experts had been planned after family members of the missing also requested that the complex front of the hull be opened.

The 6,825-ton Sewol had been carrying mostly high school students among an estimated 476 people when it ran into trouble en route to Jeju Island from southwestern Incheon on the morning of April 16.

 
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