South Korea begin raising ferry in which 304 died

South Korea begin raising ferry in which 304 died
File photo: Ferry sinking in 2014.

South Korean salvage workers have begun the process of raising a large ferry that sank in 2014, killing more than 300 people.

Workers on two barges slipped 66 cables beneath the Sewol ferry, which has been lying on its left side in about 40 metres of water.

The cables are connected to a frame of metal beams which divers have spent months putting in place.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries believes that workers will be able to lift the upper side of the ferry about 13 metres above the surface by Thursday morning if water and weather conditions remain stable.

Workers will then begin loading it on to a semi-submersible, heavy-lifting vessel that will carry it to a mainland port.

That process, including emptying the ferry of water and fuel, is expected to take days.

Workers also conducted tests to raise the ferry on Sunday but delayed the operation after some cables became tangled.

The bodies of 295 passengers - most of whom were students on a high school trip - were recovered after the sinking on April 16 2014 but nine are still missing. Relatives are hoping that those remains will be found inside the ferry.

The ferry disaster touched off an outpouring of national grief and triggered anger over what was seen as a botched rescue job by the government.

The ferry's captain survived and is serving a life sentence after a court found him guilty of committing homicide through "wilful negligence" because he fled the ship without issuing an evacuation order.

The then-president Park Geun-hye was forced to defend herself against accusations that she was out of contact for several hours on the day of the sinking.

The allegations were included in an impeachment bill lawmakers passed against Park in December, amid broader corruption suspicions.

Park was formally removed from office by the Constitutional Court earlier this month. She is now under criminal investigation over suspicions that she conspired with a confidante to extort money and favours from companies and allow the friend to secretly interfere with state affairs.

- AP

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