Rescue divers retrieved 29 bodies from the wreck of the ferry Sewol off the southwest coast on Monday as hopes of finding any survivors dwindled to zero.
Throngs of distressed families rushed to the headquarters of rescue operations to identify their loved ones, many of whom were teenagers from a high school in Ansan who had been on a school trip when the ferry sank last Wednesday.
Search operations picked up speed on Monday as currents slowed and tidal waters off the coast became shallower. Koh Myung-seok at the Korea Coast Guard said waves were only 0.5 m high and winds blew at a speed of only 5-8 m/s, posing "few difficulties" in operations.
More divers were deployed and search operations were extended around the clock.
Divers focused on searching the third and fourth levels of the ferry, where most of the passengers stayed. Four boats arrived at the scene of the accident to provide constant oxygen to divers.
The Korea Coast Guard asked the Japanese shipbuilder that built the Sewol to come to Korea to help in operations and requested two barges and two cranes from China.
The families of the missing pleaded with rescue headquarters to wrap up the search operations by Wednesday or Thursday, when tidal waters are expected to become fierce again.
Earlier on Monday, families met with representatives from the government and military rescue teams to ask them to speed up search operations.