SEOUL (AFP) - Salvage operators raised South Korea's sunken Sewol ferry early Thursday (March 23), nearly three years after the ship sank killing more than 300 people, Yonhap news agency reported.
"As of 3.45 am (2.45am Thursday), part of the Sewol's structure, which is believed to be its stabiliser, can be seen above the water with the naked eye," an official from the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
If the entire ferry can be raised, two salvage barges will move the hull onto a semisubmersible ship, which will carry it to the port of Mokpo, he explained.
"It will take about eight days to lift the ship and move it to Mokpo. And it will require four additional days to move it onto a dry dock," he added.
The vessel was lying more than 40 metres below the waves off southwestern South Korea and the operation, originally scheduled for last year, had been pushed back several times because of adverse weather.
It is thought that nine bodies still unaccounted for may be trapped inside the sunken ship, and raising the ferry intact has been a key demand of the families of the victims, the vast majority of whom were schoolchildren.