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Monday, April 21, 2014, 11:39
64 dead, 238 missing in S. Korean ferry sinking accident
By Xinhua / Agencies

64 dead, 238 missing in S. Korean ferry sinking accident

A boy holds a candle during a candlelight vigil to wish for the safe return of missing passengers from the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol, at a park in Ansan April 20, 2014. (Photo / Agencies)

JINDO - Death toll rose to 64 Monday morning in a South Korean ferry sinking accident as divers kept entering inside the hull of the submerged vessel while ships were scouring the waters.

So far, 64 people have been confirmed dead, and 238 others still missing. The number of the rescued remained unchanged at 174.

The pan-government response center will hold a regular press briefing at 10 am local time to explain overnight rescue operations.

A transcript released Sunday shows the ferry that sank was crippled with confusion and indecision well after it began listing dangerously.

Three times in succession, and about half an hour after the ferry Sewol began tilting on Wednesday, a crew member asked Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) whether passengers would be rescued if they abandoned ship off South Korea's southern coast. That followed several statements from the ship that it was impossible for people aboard to even move, and another in which it said it was "impossible to broadcast" instructions.

Many people followed the captain's initial order to stay below deck, where it is feared they remain trapped.

"Even if it's impossible to broadcast, please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing," an unidentified VTS official urged at 9:24 am, 29 minutes after the Sewol first reported trouble, according to the transcript, released by South Korea's coast guard.

"If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?" the unidentified crew member asked.

"At least make them wear life rings and make them escape!" the VTS official responded.

"If this ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?" the crew member asked again.

"Don't let them go bare - at least make them wear life rings and make them escape!" the VTS official repeated. "The rescue of human lives from the Sewol ferry ... the captain should make his own decision and evacuate them. We don't know the situation very well. The captain should make the final decision and decide whether you're going to evacuate passengers or not."

"I'm not talking about that," the crew member said. "I asked, if they evacuate now, can they be rescued right away?"

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