South Korean diver dies in ferry search operation

Mon May 5, 2014 10:57pm EDT

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By Narae Kim
    SEOUL, May 6 (Reuters) - A diver lost consciousness and died
on Tuesday during the search operation for victims still missing
after last month's South Korean ferry disaster.
    The diver had lost radio contact five minutes after diving
to fix guideline ropes on the fifth deck of the sunken ferry,
according to Ko Myung-seok, spokesman for the government's
emergency task force.
    He was unable to breathe by himself when he was brought to
the surface, and his death was later confirmed at a hospital.
    The dead man had been working for Undine Marine Industries,
the company brought in to lead search efforts on the Sewol
ferry, which capsized and sank about 20 km (12 miles) off the
southwest coast of South Korea on April 16 with 476 passengers
and crew on board.
    Among the passengers were 339 were children and teachers on
a high school outing to the southern island of Jeju. Only 174
people have been rescued. The confirmed death toll is 263, with
39 still missing. 
    An investigation is ongoing and amid rising indignation over
the government's handling of the disaster, President Park
Geun-hye voiced criticism on Tuesday of the role played by the
ferry operator and government officials.
    "Safety rules that must be observed were not followed
because of worldly desires and irresponsible acts that tolerated
those injustices have resulted in death," she said during her
address at a temple in Seoul on Tuesday to celebrate Buddha's
birthday.
    She promised to fundamentally change national policies and
systems to improve safety and to clean up malpractices to ensure
businesses and government officials comply with requirements.
    President Park visited the families of the ferry victims on
Sunday afternoon in Paengmok port in Jindo for the second time
since the tragedy. 
    Her approval rating had slipped to 53 percent as of May 5,
12 percent down for the two weeks after the disaster, according
to Seoul-based polling company Realmeter.

 (Additional Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Simon
Cameron-Moore)
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A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

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