Salvage Efforts Run Into Serious Trouble

A policewoman shares her umbrella with the family member of a missing passenger from the ferry disaster in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Monday. A policewoman shares her umbrella with the family member of a missing passenger from the ferry disaster in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Monday.

Efforts to look for more bodies trapped in the sunken ferry Sewol hit a serious snag as currents intensified and mountains of debris clogged up the narrow passageways of the ferry.

Rescue workers on Sunday proposed using explosives and metal cutters as well as moving the sunken ferry in order to reach the bodies. But the families of the victims opposed the idea for fear of damaging the bodies. However, they agreed to using wire cutters to pry open the cabin doors.

Coast guard deputy chief Choi Sang-hwan suggested turning the ferry right-side up again, because the Sewol's left side is touching the bottom of the ocean making it difficult to access bodies believed to be trapped in that part of the ferry. When asked how long that would take, Choi said more than a month. The families said they could not wait that long.

Three massive crane barges that had been dispatched to the scene following the disaster have all left. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries dispatched 3,600-ton crane barges on April 16, when the Sewol sank. Samsung sent another 8,000-ton crane barge later.

But they were no use there as recue efforts became tough due to bad weather over the weekend and salvaging the ferry has been delayed.

A government official at the scene of the disaster said, "We will ask the cranes to return once discussions begin over salvaging the ferry."

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 29, 2014 12:04 KST