South Korean sunken ferry death toll tops 100

By: CBS
By: CBS

SEOUL, South Korea (CBS) -- South Korean officials say their earlier conclusion that the ferry that sank last week, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing, had made a sharp turn shortly before the disaster was incorrect, and that the vessel made a less severe turn than initially reported.

Data transmitted by the Sewol's automatic identification system, an on-board transponder used for tracking, shows that the ship made a J-shaped turn before listing heavily and ultimately sinking.

A ministry of ocean and fisheries official had said Friday that the vessel had taken a sharp turn. But on Tuesday, a ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity saying he wasn't authorized to speak to media, said the AIS data received by a central station was incomplete because the ship's signal was weak.

More complete data, retrieved from a base station in Mokpo, includes about four minutes of tracking, and the ship spent most of that time making a roughly 180-degree turn.

It remains unclear why the ship turned around shortly before it sank. The third mate, who has been arrested, was steering at the time of the accident, in a challenging area where she had not steered before, and the captain said he was not on the bridge at the time.

Authorities have not identified the third mate, though a colleague identified her as Park Han-gyeol. Senior prosecutor Ahn Song-don said Monday the third mate has told investigators why she made the turn, but he would not reveal her answer, and more investigation is needed to determine whether the answer is accurate.

This, as the grim task of recovering bodies from the vessel continued, and the official death toll surpassed 100, hitting 108, with nearly 200 people still missing.


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