Saturday 20 December 2014

Ferry survivor numbers revised down

Published 07/05/2014 | 10:12

Students leave paper ships in tribute to the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy, in Seoul, South Korea (AP)
Students leave paper ships in tribute to the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy, in Seoul, South Korea (AP)

The South Korean government has admitted it miscounted the number of survivors from the Sewol ferry tragedy, a stunning error and the latest of many blunders that have eroded the nation's confidence in its leaders.

Coastguard chief Kim Suk-kyoon said only 172 people survived the April 16 sinking of the ferry - not 174, as the government had been saying since April 18.

Mr Kim also said there are two more missing passengers than authorities previously knew about. Both are Chinese nationals.

That change raises the number of people feared dead to 304. So far, 269 bodies have been recovered, and divers are searching for 35 more people.

More than 80% of those killed were students from a high school near Seoul.

The change in survivor numbers came as South Korea's prime minister called for underwater searches for the missing to be completed by the weekend.

Slow searches have deepened the anguish of families of the missing, who have been camping out at a nearby port waiting for news of their loved ones.

Prime minister Chung Hong-won told a Cabinet Council meeting that workers must ''resolve to finish searches'' by Saturday as tidal currents are forecast to be weak until then.

Searches have been hampered by strong currents and floating debris inside the ship.

Press Association

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