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South Korean ferry disaster: Death toll rises to 275 as crews search frigid waters

By Stella Kim, CNN
updated 1:40 AM EDT, Sat May 10, 2014
Sewol ferry captain Lee Joon-Seok was acquitted of murder, avoiding a death sentence, but was sentenced to 36 years in jail on November 11 for his role in the maritime disaster that killed more than 300. Sewol ferry captain Lee Joon-Seok was acquitted of murder, avoiding a death sentence, but was sentenced to 36 years in jail on November 11 for his role in the maritime disaster that killed more than 300.
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South Korean ferry sinks
South Korean ferry sinks
South Korean ferry sinks
South Korean ferry sinks
South Korean ferry sinks
South Korean ferry sinks
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Most of the dead and missing are students
  • The students were on a trip to the resort island of Jeju
  • Divers are still searching the submerged vessel for the missing people

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The death toll from the South Korean ferry capsizing has gone up to 275, with dozens more still missing, the nation's officials said Saturday.

"The two additional male bodies were retrieved overnight," the Government Rescue Headquarters said. It said 29 people are listed as missing.

Most of the dead and missing are students, all from the same high school, who were taking the ferry to the resort island of Jeju for a field trip. It capsized on April 16.

Divers are still searching the submerged vessel for the missing people, braving frigid waters, strong currents and corridors clogged with debris. Last week, one of the divers died while working to recover bodies.

South Korean authorities cracked down on the company that operated the Sewol passenger ferry following the disaster that shocked the nation.

The chief executive of ferry operator, Cheonghaejin Marine Co., was arrested Thursday and is facing charges including causing death by negligence, said Yang Joong-jin, a senior prosecutor in the investigation.

The government is also taking steps to revoke the company's business licenses, the the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

The planned measures are aimed at taking away the licenses of the company for all its routes, including the one on which the Sewol passenger ferry sank.

The stunning loss of life has shaken South Korea, raising troubling questions about safety standards and government oversight of businesses. President Park Geun-hye has apologized over the government's handling of the disaster and pledged to overhaul safety systems.

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