(SEOUL, South Korea) — The ferry Sewol, which sank in 2014 with more than 300 people on board, was raised to the surface on Thursday off the southwestern coast of South Korea, The New York Times reported.
In 2015, the government announced plans to raise the ship, contracting a consortium of Chinese and South Korean salvage crews for the $76 million operation. Their work has been painstakingly slow because of strong currents, frequent periods of bad weather, poor underwater visibility and the complicated engineering maneuvers needed to raise the 6,825-ton ferry, which was lying on its side about 145 feet below the surface.
The investigation of the sinking exposed numerous loopholes in safety standards in South Korea. Sewol’s operator, Chonghaejin Marine, routinely overloaded the ship with poorly secured cargo, including on the ferry’s final voyage. Inspectors colluded in the practice by giving Sewol and other ships just a cursory check from the pier, or none at all.
A months-long underwater search of the ship ended in 2014 after 295 bodies were recovered. Nine people who were on board remain missing, including four students and two teachers from a South Korean high school. Of the 324 students from the school on board for a field trip, 250 drowned.
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