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[Newsmaker] Third body retrieved 20 days after Jeju boat capsizes

Nine of 12 crewmen onboard ship remain missing

Two of the 11 bodies missing after a Jeju boat capsized last month were discovered Sunday afternoon.

The Jeju Regional Coast Guard on Monday confirmed the bodies had been located by a remotely operated vehicle of the Navy’s submarine rescue ship Cheonghaejin.

While one body assumed to be that of a Vietnamese national was recovered Sunday, another body was lifted from the water Monday afternoon. 


A capsized boat on fire is submerged in the waters near Jeju Island on Nov. 19. (Jeju Regional Coast Guard)
A capsized boat on fire is submerged in the waters near Jeju Island on Nov. 19. (Jeju Regional Coast Guard)

Around 7 a.m. on Nov. 19, a 29-ton fishing boat with 12 crewmen aboard -- six South Koreans and six Vietnamese -- caught fire and keeled over in waters 76 kilometers west of Jeju Island.

The boat departed from Tongyeong Port in South Gyeongsang Province on Nov. 8 to catch hairtail and was scheduled to return on Nov. 18.

One South Korean man, 60, was found dead following the accident, and the Coast Guard has been searching for the remaining 11 since then.

One of the bodies found Sunday was spotted some 44 meters from the sunken fuselage and was lifted at around 5:15 p.m. that day.

Based on fingerprint analysis, police presumed the body belongs to one of the Vietnamese crewmen. Police have requested that Jeju National University Hospital carry out an autopsy on the body.

The other body was not raised immediately due to fast flow and poor underwater visibility, and the body was retrieved at around 1:45 p.m. on Monday. The body will be transferred using a Coast Guard patrol ship and was expected to arrive at Jeju Port around 6 p.m. The body will be moved to S-Jungang Hospital for identification.


The rear part of the capsized boat is raised from the waters on Nov. 22. (Yonhap)
The rear part of the capsized boat is raised from the waters on Nov. 22. (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it had spotted what appears to be the front part of the 26-meter-long vessel during Sunday’s underwater search. The debris -- around 18 meters in length -- was found 82 meters underwater, about 1.4 kilometers from the disaster site.

Following the fire, the boat was split into two pieces as it capsized. Authorities salvaged the rear portion on Nov. 22, and upon examining the wreckage, found no source of fire there. The cause of the fire and details as to how the accident happened remain unidentified.

The Coast Guard planned to discontinue the underwater search using the remotely operated vehicle at around 5:30 p.m. and resume the next morning if the weather conditions allow.

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)

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