Latest on Korean ferry disasterUpdated: 2014-05-01 16:37:52 (KST)
It's been 16 days since a tragic ferry accident shocked the entire nation and the rest of the world.
The confirmed death toll now stands at 2-hundred-seventeen,.. as more bodies were found inside the vessel several hours ago.
For the latest on the search operations and the ongoing investigation into the sinking, our Kim Ji-yeon joins us from the news center,
Ji-yeon, let's start with the investigation, where there wer8 more arrests today.
That's right. Local authorities arrested two senior employees of Chonghaejin Marine Company on Thursday for negligence.
They stand accused of allowing the ferry to be renovated so it could hold more cargo, knowing full well that it was dangerous.
The excess cargo and weight on board the ferry is seen as one of the main reasons for the sinking.
The investigative team says the two employees knew the dangers of restructuring the Sewol-ho ferry, but went ahead with the plans anyway.
The authorities say they are planning to request an arrest warrant for the two employees, identified only by their surnames Ahn and Kim.
Ahn, the director of the company, is also under investigation into whether he or she embezzled funds of around 29-thousand U.S. dollars while in charge of restructuring the ferry.
On top of that, the joint investigative team says it detected a problem in the process of fastening cargo inside the ferry which ultimately contributed its capsizing.
The "turn-buckle" device, which has wires to fix the cargo into place, was not being used.
It was found that only ropes and a device called the "cone" were used, which were not able to safely secure the cargo on board.
The shipping company is not the only one under fire for lax management, is it?
The rescue team that first arrived at the ferry site on April 16th is under fire again, over new information that reveals their slow and lax handling of the situation.
It took the Mokpo Coast Guard more than 20 minutes to depart for the ferry site after being dispatched.
The order was sent at around 8:58 a.m., but they didn't leave until 9:20, 22 minutes later.
Faced with the criticism, the Korea Coast Guard downplayed the delay and said it was within their standards.
They said the rescue officials were untangling electrical lines that are connected to the rescue boat that they're using to turn on the engine.
Normally it takes rescue teams a mere minutes, less than five minutes in all, to depart from their stations and head to the accident site.
Critics say the rescue team should have been adaquately trained and prepared to handle emergencies like the Sewol-ho ferry, especially in the waters that are notorious for strong sea currents.
How are the search operations proceeding?
Divers focused their operations earlier today on the fourth floor of the vessel, mainly on the left side, where most of the missing were thought to be and on the fifth floor lobby.
They found one body on the fourth floor.
The authorities said they expect to make more progress in their search starting Friday as they believe they'll finally be able to get inside cabins that have been blocked by debris.
The operator has decided not to deploy a diving bell at all.
The Coast Guard tried to deploy a diving bell earlier today, but it was pulled out of the waters after just two hours.
A diving bell is a chamber that can be used as a base for divers, enabling them to stay underwater for several hours without having to return to the surface.
One family member of the missing argued that the search operations on the vessel itself were stalled for four days, as the search team was solely focused on making preparations for the deployment of the diving bell.
I'm Kim Ji-yeon and I'll bring more updates later this evening.
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