A high school vice principal who had been rescued earlier this week from a sinking South Korean ferry has been found hanging from a tree, authorities said Friday, as rescuers continue the search to find 270 people still missing and presumed dead.
Local police on Jindo island, an island near the ferry wreckage housing rescued passengers, said the body of Kang Min-Kyu, 52, was found near the gymnasium
“The precise cause of death is still under investigation,” one police official told The Telegraph, although Yonhap news agency have cited police as saying he was found hanging from a tree having apparently committed suicide.
Along with Min-Kyu, at least 28 others are now confirmed dead from the ferry, which sank Wednesday. The passengers included 325 second-year students from Danwon High School heading to a southern island on a four-day trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors and about 270 people remain missing, and of those missing, the majority are high school students between the ages 16 and 17.
As reported by the NY Post, the ship left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the island of Jeju with approximately 475 people, including 325 students on board. The ferry capsized within hours of the crew making a distress call to the shore at 9 a.m., with only the dark blue keel protruding over the surface. By late Friday, even the keel had sunk, and rescuers were forced to float two giant beige colored buoys to mark the area. Navy divers also attached underwater lifting bags to the 6,852-ton ferry to prevent it from sinking further, the Defense Ministry said.
As of Friday, Coast Guard officials began pumping air into the ship in an attempt to sustain any survivors, while relatives look from the shore, angry and bewildered.
“I want to jump into the water with them,” said Park Geum-san, 59, the great-aunt of another missing student, Park Ye-ji. “My loved one is under the water and it’s raining. Anger is not enough.”
South Korean officials are now looking into the crew, particularly the third mate, who is 26-years old and with very limited steering experience aboard the Sewol. According to officials, the accident happened at a point where the ferry had to make a sharp turn that caused the ferry to capsize. Officials believe that the third mate may have ordered the turn.
[Photo Credit: Bing]