South Korean Ferry Families Clash With Police

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Distraught relatives of hundreds of missing passengers on board the sunken South Korean ferry have clashed with police as the official death toll rises.

Up to 100 relatives gathered near a bridge linking the southwestern port city of Jindo to the mainland and tried to march across to take their protest to the capital, Seoul.

But police formed two lines to prevent the pushing and shoving relatives reaching the bridge.

“The government is the killer,” some of the relatives shouted, as they pressed against the police lines.

It comes after a new transcript of communications with the ferry revealed a member of the crew questioned whether evacuating the ship was the right thing to do.

An unidentified crew member on the Sewol asked Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre (VTS) at 9.24am on Wednesday “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?”

The transcript, provided by Associated Press, is from half an hour after the ship began listing and followed several statements saying it was “impossible” for passengers to move.

The VTS official replies: “Even if it’s impossible to broadcast, please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.

“The rescue of human lives of Sewol ferry… the captain should make your own decision and evacuate them.”

Divers have recovered more bodies inside the South Korean sunken ferry, pushing the confirmed death toll above 50, officials say.

The discovery came after divers gained access to the inside of the ferry for the first time by breaking windows after three days of failed attempts due to strong currents and poor visibility.

It is thought 252 people, most of them children on a school trip, are still missing. There are 174 known survivors.

The 69-year-old captain of the ferry, Lee Joon-Seok, has been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two other crew members have also been taken into custody.

They include a 25-year-old female third mate who prosecutors claim was steering the ferry for the first time through dangerous waters when the accident occurred on Wednesday.

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