Bones Aboard South Korean Ferry Stir Anguish and Hope in Relatives


Relatives of victims of the Sewol disaster watching the recovered vessel off Jindo, South Korea, on Tuesday. Its raising last week prompted hopes that the remains of nine missing passengers would be found.

South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, via Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Salvage crews found what they believed were human bones from the ferry Sewol on Tuesday, nearly three years after the ship sank, killing more than 300 people in one of the South Korea’s worst disasters.

Upon hearing the news, relatives of the nine passengers still missing, who have never given up hope of finding the remains of their loved ones, broke into tears.

Their hopes were initially raised when the 6,825-ton ferry was finally lifted from the sea bottom last Thursday.

The Sewol, structurally unbalanced and overloaded, capsized and then sank off the southwest coast of South Korea on April 16, 2014. The underwater search of the ferry ended after divers recovered the 295th body, a high school girl, from one of the ship’s restrooms on Oct. 28, 2014.

After the ferry was raised last week, it was positioned on its side on a large barge-like vessel as salvage crews drained it before taking it to a nearby port for a closer inspection.

On Tuesday, they found six bones, a shoe and other personal items, which had apparently washed out of the ferry as it was being drained.

Government forensic experts rushed to the scene to collect the bones. Officials said it would take days to identify the bones through DNA tests.

Most of the victims were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, south of Seoul, who had boarded the ferry for a trip to an island. The nine who are still missing include four students and two teachers from the school.

The sinking was a deeply traumatizing experience for the nation.

When the Sewol capsized,…

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