China / World

Nation gathers to commemorate third anniversary of Sewol sinking

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated: 2017-04-17 07:33

SEOUL - Civilians, politicians, religious figures and celebrities in South Korea on Sunday joined to mark the third anniversary of the country's worst maritime disaster.

The 6,825-ton passenger ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the country's southwestern island of Jindo, claiming 304 lives, mostly high school students on a school trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.

The ferry capsized while carrying 476 people and only 172 were rescued. Nine people are still unaccounted for.

The vessel was raised from the seabed on March 23. The ship has been transported to a port in Mokpo in South Jeolla province to search for the nine missing passengers.

Last week authorities began to prepare the ship for the search but warned that it could be a long process.

"We will first clean and disinfect the ship and then carry out thorough safety checks," said Lee Cheol-jo, a senior official in charge of the salvage operation.

About 10,000 people reportedly visited the port, tying yellow ribbons to the fences and hoping the bodies of the nine victims would soon be found.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 civilians participated in a separate memorial event held in the Paengmok harbor near the site of the incident off Jindo Island. The participants flew 304 yellow balloons to mourn the victims.

On the eve of the third anniversary, civilians visited memorial altars set up across the country. On Saturday night, about 100,000 people gathered in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul to join a candlelight rally.

It was the first event of its kind since March 25, when street demonstrations were held to celebrate the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.

Park's whereabouts during the first seven hours of the sinking remain a mystery.

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