How do you lift 6800-ton ferry from seafloor? Delicately

They aim to finish that by late Friday as currents are forecast to strengthen on Saturday.

South Korean officials say divers have cut off a vehicle ramp that had been dangling from a sunken 6,800-ton ferry and hindering efforts to raise ship.

The Sewol sank off the south-western island of Jindo on 16 April 2014 killing 304 people, nearly all school children on a trip.

The discovery had triggered an angry reaction from relatives of the missing, criticizing the government's salvage operation as poorly organized and questioning whether other remains might have gotten lost while workers raised the sunken ferry last week.

Salvors have succeeded in raising the sunken South Korean ferry Seawol above the water surface.

Workers plan to complete loading the ferry by midnight Friday.

A relative of missing passengers of the sunken Sewol ferry watches workers lifting the boat in waters off Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, March 23, 2017. The Sewol sank in April 2014, killing more than 300 people. Lee said the ferry has so far been lifted 24 meters (79 feet) from the seafloor, but needs to be elevated 11 meters (36 feet) further so its upper side reaches about 13 meters (42 feet) above the surface.

Workers had halted the process for several hours after the ferry began rubbing against the pulleys and other equipment on the two barges that are raising it with cables.

They lifted it about six feet from the sea floor on Wednesday and, since that test went well, they made a decision to proceed with raising the ferry.

He said workers may face a decision on whether to continue the salvaging operation if the ferry isn't loaded on the vessel by Friday.

Relatives tossed yellow roses into the sea and watched from afar as crews on the transport vessel continued to empty the ferry of water and fuel.

At 3:30 p.m., the ferry was carefully test lifted 1 meter from the sea bottom and salvage workers carried out balancing procedures before committing themselves to pulling the hull out of the water. A part of the sunken Sewol ferry is seen in waters off Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, March 23, 2017.

The priorities once the ship was recovered, Lee Suk-tae, who led the Sewol Special Investigation Commission, said were "investigating the exact cause of the sinking and collecting the bodies of those who haven't been found yet". The disaster has been blamed on overloaded cargo, improper storage and other negligence.

The Sewol disaster left the country deeply traumatised and was a crippling blow to the now-ousted leader Park Geun-Hye, whose dismissal was confirmed by Seoul's top court only two weeks ago. She was formally removed from office this month and is under criminal investigation over suspicions that she conspired with a confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allow the friend to secretly interfere with state affairs.

A 6,800-ton South Korean ferry was hoisted to the surface Thursday almost three years after it capsized and sank in violent seas off the country's southwestern coast, an emotional moment for the country as it searches for closure to one of its deadliest disasters.

Bereaved families have been calling for the ship to be raised and for a more thorough investigation into the disaster. At the port, the authorities will scour the ferry for the missing nine bodies.

The 16-year-old daughter of Huh Hong-Hwan was one victim whose remains were never found.

  • Leroy Wright