476 people including 250 students were on board. 304 were killed
The sunken Sewol ferry will be lifted three years after the disaster took place.
On 16 April 2014, the Sewol ferry en route from Incheon to Jeju capsized with 476 people on board after it turned too quickly. 250 of the passengers were secondary school students from Danwon High School. 304 passengers and crew were killed. There were 172 survivors, leaving 9 bodies still unaccounted for.
Asia One reports that three years on, the sunken ferry will be lifted. On Friday, final preparations to raise the wreckage were put into motion.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries had planned to begin lifting the ship on Sunday but were forced to reschedule due to weather conditions. It is expected that the ferry will be lifted on 5 April, when the next neap tide is expected.
In order to lift the 6825-ton ferry, which currently sits 40 meters beneath the surface of the water, beams underneath the wreckage have been installed.
“I’ve never seen that kind of soil. It wasn’t bedrock, not earth nor sand, but it was more like a mixture of concrete and rocks,” recalled Lee Cheol-jo, an official from the ministry who has been supervising the entire salvage operation since 2015.
“Each diver had to go underwater and check the soil condition, brief us on what it is, put the drilling machine and this process took too long,” Lee said.
Chinese consortium Shanghai Salvage will spearhead the project costing 85 million won.
Channel News Asia reports that a ministry of oceans and fisheries official told Reuters, “The main reason is to find the nine missing bodies.”
“We’re waiting for the neap tide and when it comes, we’ll see what the weather is like and we’ll try,” the official said.
“We’re not making any promises but we’ll try,” he said. “There have to be low waves for at least three days.”
A victims’ family group representative said relatives were hopeful.
“It’s hard to talk about feelings because it hasn’t been raised yet but the families are really looking forward to it,” the group’s representative, Jeong Seong-wook, told Reuters.