Human bones from Sewol ferry wreck identified as one of four missing South Korean students

A search team checks the wreck of the Sewol ferry in the port of Mokpo, some 410km south of Seoul, South Korea on May 13, 2017
A search team checks the wreck of the Sewol ferry in the port of Mokpo, some 410km south of Seoul, South Korea on May 13, 2017PHOTO: EPA
A search team checks the wreck of the Sewol ferry in the port of Mokpo, 410 km south of Seoul, South Korea on May 13, 2017.
A search team checks the wreck of the Sewol ferry in the port of Mokpo, 410 km south of Seoul, South Korea on May 13, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (AFP) - A set of human remains retrieved from the salvaged Sewol ferry wreck has been identified as one of four students who remained unaccounted for following the 2014 disaster, officials said on Friday (May 19).

The 6,800-tonne ship sank off the country's south-western coast in one of its worst maritime accidents, claiming more than 300 lives, mostly high school students on an excursion.

Nine victims were left unaccounted for, and the 145m-long Sewol was raised in March to search for them.

Bones retrieved on Tuesday from the third floor of the salvaged ship matched X-rays and dental records from Huh Da Yun, the Maritime Ministry said in a press statement.

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She is the first of the missing students from Danwon high school to be identified following the raising of the wreck, after a piece of bone recovered two weeks ago from the sea bed where the ship had been lying was confirmed as belonging to one of two missing teachers from the institution.

 
 

“We have to find the rest of her remains,” her father Huh Heung Hwan was quoted as saying by the JoongAng daily.

“I dreamt of my daughter a few days ago,” he told the paper. “She was smiling in the dream. I held her hand tight and hugged her and today, she returned like this.”

Huh, 17, liked dancing and singing, looking after children at a Sunday school in her church, and wanted to become a kindergarten teacher, the Yonhap news agency reported.

As a helicopter plucked survivors from the deck of the sinking ship, it said, she yielded her turn to friends.

Seven others still unaccounted for include the other teacher, three students and three other passengers.

The Sewol sinking and botched rescue efforts dealt a crushing blow to now-ousted president Park Geun Hye.

Investigations concluded the disaster was the result of numerous human factors, including an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay and inexperienced crew.