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Endless wait for families of unrecovered South Korea ferry victims

Published on Jul 10, 2014 11:21 AM
A boy sits next to a board with messages written for victims of sunken passenger ship Sewol, outside the official memorial altar in Ansan May 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JINDO, South Korea (AFP) - When steel worker Huh Hong Hwan heard his teenaged daughter might be trapped in a sinking ferry, he didn't hesitate. He jumped in his car and drove, sick with anxiety and panic, for five hours down to the southern island of Jindo where the rescue operation for South Korea's worst peacetime disaster was gearing up.

Nearly three months later, he's still there.

"I never thought I would be waiting for her this long," the 50-year-old said at a gymnasium that has been his home since the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry capsized on April 16 with 476 passengers and crew. "I'm totally exhausted, but parents can't give up on their children even if the whole world does," Huh told AFP.

He is one of around 30 relatives who have maintained a bitter, defiant vigil in Jindo, as divers continue the increasingly desperate, dangerous search for the last remaining bodies trapped in the sunken vessel.

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