Diver dies at South Korea ferry disaster site

Coast Guard divers prepare to jump into the water during a search and rescue operation for missing people at the ferry Sewol sinking site, at sea, about 20 km off Jindo-port, Jindo Island, in the south-western province of South Jeolla, South Korea, o
Coast Guard divers prepare to jump into the water during a search and rescue operation for missing people at the ferry Sewol sinking site, at sea, about 20 km off Jindo-port, Jindo Island, in the south-western province of South Jeolla, South Korea, on April 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (AFP) - A South Korean diver died Friday during efforts to cut a new access hole into a submerged ferry that sank last month with the loss of around 300 lives, the coastguard said.

The 46-year-old diver, identified only as Kim, was pulled from the water unconscious and bleeding from his face, a coastguard official said.

He was later pronounced dead in hospital, but the precise cause of death was not immediately clear, the official said.

He was the second diver killed in the operation to retrieve hundreds of bodies from the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry, which sank on April 16 off the southern coast.

The Sewol was carrying 476 people - most of them schoolchildren.

No bodies have been recovered since May 21, leaving the confirmed death toll at 288, with 16 still unaccounted for.

Divers have had to battle strong currents and work in near-zero visibility. Two dozen have been treated for injuries and decompression sickness.