SEOUL (AFP) - Dive teams on Tuesday recovered another victim of South Korea's ferry disaster, the first to be retrieved from the sunken vessel in 16 days in an increasingly frustrating search for the last bodies.
The body was of a woman passenger, and brings the total number of confirmed victims from the April 16 disaster to 293, with 11 still unaccounted for.
The 6,825-tonne Sewol passenger ferry was carrying 476 people, including 325 students on a school trip, when it sank off the south-west coast. The recovery operation has dragged on for more than two months, with the body retrieval rate falling off rapidly since the beginning of June.
Two divers have been killed and voices have begun to be heard calling for heavy cranes to be brought in to lift the sunken vessel.
Relatives of those still missing insist all the bodies must be recovered first, despite indications that some may have been carried away by the strong currents in the area. The last body found on June 5 was spotted miles away from the accident site by a local fisherman.
Investigations are still underway into the exact cause of the accident, but the trial has begun of 15 Sewol crew on charges of criminal negligence and abandoning passengers.
Captain Lee Joon Seok and three senior crew members are accused of "homicide through wilful negligence" - a charge that carries the death penalty.