South Korean ferry disaster: Death toll rises to 275 as crews search frigid waters

Story highlights

Most of the dead and missing are students

The students were on a trip to the resort island of Jeju

Divers are still searching the submerged vessel for the missing people

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

South Korean authorities are cracking down on the company that operated the passenger ferry that sank last month, a disaster that killed hundreds of people and shocked the nation.

“The two additional male bodies were retrieved overnight,” the Government Rescue Headquarters said. It said 29 people are listed as missing.

Most of the dead and missing are students, all from the same high school, who were taking the ferry to the resort island of Jeju for a field trip. It capsized on April 16.

Divers are still searching the submerged vessel for the missing people, braving frigid waters, strong currents and corridors clogged with debris. Last week, one of the divers died while working to recover bodies.

South Korean authorities cracked down on the company that operated the Sewol passenger ferry following the disaster that shocked the nation.

The chief executive of Cheonghaejin Marine Company, the ferry operator, was arrested Thursday and is facing charges including causing death by negligence, said Yang Joong-jin, a senior prosecutor in the investigation.

At the same time, the government has begun to take steps to revoke the company’s business licenses, the the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

The planned measures are aimed at taking away the licenses of the company for all its routes, including the one on which the Sewol passenger ferry sank, leaving more than 260 people dead and dozens still missing.

The stunning loss of life has shaken South Korea, raising troubling questions about safety standards and government oversight of businesses. President Park Geun-hye has apologized over the government’s handling of the disaster and pledged to overhaul safety systems to try to prevent accidents in the future.

Divers are still searching the submerged vessel for the missing people, braving frigid waters, strong currents and corridors clogged with debris. Last week, one of the divers died while working to recover bodies.

Cheonghaejin Marine earned an extra 62 million South Korean won ($62,000) for the excess cargo on the April 16 voyage, and nearly 3 billion South Korean won ($2.9 million) in extra profit for all of the excess cargo that the ferry carried since March 2013, investigators said.