South Korea ferry: Death toll passes 100 as evidence shows ship did not turn sharply

Full data shows ship, with inexperienced third mate at helm, made J-shaped turn before it started listing

The death toll from the ferry which sank off the coast of South Korea last week has officially passed 100 for the first time, as new evidence emerged showing it did not turn sharply before capsizing.

The Sewol, which was carrying 476 people, had an inexperienced third mate at the helm at the time of the disaster. On Friday, a government official said data appeared to show that the vessel had made an abrupt turn just before it started listing dangerously.

Yet analysis of the full data from an on-board transponder used for tracking has now shown that the ship in fact made a much more gradual, J-shaped turn before it sank. Today the ministry of ocean and fisheries said its previous data had been incomplete.

At least 104 bodies have now been retrieved from the wreckage of the ferry, but more than 300 are either missing or dead - many teenage pupils from the same high school.

The cause of the disaster is not yet known. Officials said the third mate, who has been arrested, was steering in a challenging area where she had not steered before, and the captain said he was not on the bridge at the time.

Crew committed 'unforgivable, murderous acts,' says President

Families who once dreamed of miraculous rescues now simply hope their loved ones' remains are recovered soon, before the ocean does much more damage.

After the bodies are pulled from the water, police and doctors look for forms of ID and take notes on the body's appearance, clothing and any identifying physical marks.

The bodies are transported to Jindo island, about an hour's boat ride away, as rescuers notify families waiting at the port, or at a gymnasium where many are sheltering. Bodies without IDs are described to officials in Jindo who relay the details to the relatives.

The families, and South Koreans more broadly, have at times responded with fury. The captain initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the Sewol sank. By then, the ship had tilted so much it is believed that many passengers were trapped inside.

At a cabinet briefing, President Park Geun-hye said: "What the captain and part of the crew did is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense. Unforgivable, murderous behaviour."

 Emergency task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok said bodies were mostly found on the third and fourth floor of the ferries, where many passengers seemed to have gathered. Many students were also in cabins on the fourth floor, near the stern of the ship.

A high proportion of the bodies found have been recovered since the weekend when divers, frustrated for days by strong currents and bad weather, were finally able to enter the ferry. But conditions remain challenging.

"I cannot see anything in front ... and the current underwater is too fast," said Choi Jin-ho, a professional diver who searched the ferry. "Then breathing gets faster and panic comes."

A body is carried from a Coast Guard ship to the harbour in Jindo A body is carried from a Coast Guard ship to the harbour in Jindo Searchers yesterday deployed a remote-controlled underwater camera to explore the inside of the ferry. Unlike divers who have to surface after 20 minutes, the US-built camera can be used for two to three hours.

A ministry official, speaking today about the turn made before the ferry sank, provided a map that showed both the hard 115-degree turn originally estimated and the more gradual path the restored data describes.

Senior prosecutor Ahn Song-don said the third mate told investigators why she made the turn, but would not reveal her answer to reporters, saying more investigation was needed.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - North West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - South West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

£17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

£18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent