Relatives of missing passengers aboard the sunken vessel "Sewol" wait for rescue news in Jindo, South Korea, April 18, 2014. (Xinhua file/Yao Qilin)
SEOUL, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The South Korean government said on Wednesday that an attempt will be made to lift the sunken passenger ferry Sewol, which has lain in waters off southeastern South Korea for almost three years.
The ill-fated vessel with 476 passengers on board capsized and sank off the Jindo Island, South Jeolla province on April 16, 2014. The country's worst maritime disaster claimed the lives of 304 people, mostly high school students on a school trip. Nine bodies remain unaccounted for.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said the test salvaging operation was conducted to raise the ship, which has lain in the sea bed on its left side, earlier in the morning and successfully lifted the hull around one meter off from the bed rock.
The ministry said the attempt to fully lift the wreckage will be made from 8:50 p.m. local time, adding that the ship would be seen as high as 13 meters up from the surface of the water at about 11 a.m. Thursday.
The ferry lies about 40 meters underneath the surface. Two jack-up barges would bring the ship to the surface.
Then two semi-submersible vessels would carry it to a port in Mokpo, about 90 km away from the Jindo Island.