Divers Find 48 Bodies in One Room of Sunken South Korean Ferry

On Friday, divers searching the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol discovered the bodies of 48 girls crammed into a cabin designed to hold just 38. Authorities believe the girls—all of whom were wearing life jackets—may have been following orders when they packed into the room and then became trapped as the boat tilted and sank.

With the boat lying on its side some 240 feet beneath the surface, the search and rescue effort will just become more difficult.

"The rescue effort is getting slower," said South Korean navy Capt. Kim Jin-hwang, commander of the rescue operation, told CNN. "The divers already searched all the places easily accessible. They are expecting the search to become harder because of increasing currents and harsher weather. But the navy will not stop until the last body is found."

Officials say 35 of the ferry's 111 rooms have been searched. So far, 185 bodies have been recovered;117 people remain missing and are presumed drowned.

According to Korean media, several of the bodies have been misidentified and delivered to the wrong families, with the mistake only caught as the bodies were being prepared to be buried. From the Associated Press:

An "action plan" released by the government-wide emergency task force acknowledged that "there have been cases where the victims were wrongly transferred."

Remains will be transferred to families when there is a match using DNA testing or fingerprint or dental records, the task force said. The transfer will be temporary when a body is matched though identification or physical description, and authorities will wait for more authoritative evidence before making the transfer permanent.

Eleven members of the crew, including the captain, have been arrested on charges of negligence and abandoning the ship. Authorities still aren't sure what caused the ferry to sink, though Prosecutor Yang Jung-jin of the joint investigation team told the Associated Press on Friday that excessive veering, improper stowage of cargo, modifications made to the ship or tidal influence might be to blame.

[Image via AP]