Sunken Ferry Sewol Emerges From Water In Massive Salvage Operation

Salvage workers are pulling up a South Korean ferry that sunk almost three years ago killing more than 300 people, in one of the country's worst-ever maritime disasters.

In addition to searching for the bodies of the missing, there are also plans to form an investigation committee to better understand what caused the ferry to sink on April 16, 2014.

The ferry has been pulled up by the ministry and Shanghai Salvage, a state-run Chinese company, using a "tandem lifting" method, whereby two large jacking barges are pulling wires connected to 33 beams that were inserted under the Sewol when it was lying on its portside, 44 meters (144 feet) below the surface. The initial searches when the ferry sank nearly three years ago were hampered by strong currents and low visibility in the water, and two divers died while working on the search operations.

By about 7am, the ferry had been raised enough for workers to climb on it and further fasten it to the barges.

Relatives, some watching from two fishing boats just outside the operation area, hope those remains will be found inside. "I thought we finally can find the missing nine", Lee Geum-hee, the mother of a missing school girl, told a television crew.

"My Eun-hwa has been in that dirty place".

Officials reported that the vessel was raised 13 metres above the surface of the sea by late morning local time on Friday (March 24, 2017). "It was heart wrenching".

A relative of one of the nine missing victims of the Sewol ferry sinking watches the salvation operation 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) away on a vessel provided by the government on Thursday. The whole process of salvaging and transporting the ferry to Mokpo may take some two weeks, according to the ministry.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Salvage crews towed a corroded 6,800-ton South Korean ferry and loaded it onto a semi-submersible transport vessel Saturday, completing what was seen as the most hard part of the massive effort to bring the ship back to shore.

Some family members of the dead and missing watched the crews try to raise the ship.

Other bereaved family members gathered at Paengmok harbour, an hour away from the site, huddled in front of a small computer monitor for any updates to the salvage operation.

The captain of the ferry was found guilty of homicide in 2015 and jailed for life.

Ms Park was forced to defend herself against accusations that she was out of contact for several hours on the day of the sinking.

Her response to the disaster was again raised in recent months after she came under suspicion in the course of an investigation into a corruption scandal that led to her dismissal from office on March 10.

Salvaging the huge, corroded ferry from a channel notorious for unsafe currents has been a hard and expensive job.

A makeshift memorial to the ferry victims continues to be on display at Seoul's main thoroughfare, where hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered every Saturday to call for Park's ouster.

August 4, 2015: The government agrees to an 85.1 billion won ($73 million) deal with a Chinese-led consortium led by China's state-run Shanghai Salvage raise the Sewol.

  • Leroy Wright