Cries of anguish as S Korea ferry toll reaches 130

For a moment there is silence in the tent where bodies from the ferry disaster are brought for identification. Then the anguished cries begin.

The families who line up here to view the decomposing bodies have not known for nearly a week whether they should grieve or not. Now that they know, they sound like they're being torn apart.

"How do I live without you? How will your mother live without you?" a woman cried out.

She was with a woman who emerged from the tent crying and fell into a chair where relatives tried to comfort her. One stood above her and cradled her head in her hands, stroking her face.

"Bring back my daughter!" the woman cried, calling out her child's name in agony. A man rushed over, lifted her on his back and carried her away.

The confirmed death toll from the April 16 disaster off South Korea's southern coast reached 130 today, officials said, and more than 170 people were still missing.

Four crew members accused of abandoning the ship and failing to protect the passengers were arrested, three days after warrants were issued for the captain and two other crew.

The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol survived.

The number of corpses recovered has risen sharply since the weekend, when divers battling strong currents and low visibility were finally able to enter the submerged vessel.

Emergency task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok said bodies have mostly been found on the third and fourth floors of the ferry, where many passengers seemed to have gathered. Many students were housed in cabins on the fourth floor, near the stern of the ship, Koh said.

One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of Jindo island yesterday.

The bodies are then driven in ambulances to two tents: one for men and boys, the other for women and girls. Families listen quietly outside as an official briefs them, then line up and file in. Only relatives are allowed inside.

Bodies are being identified visually, but family members have been providing DNA samples in case decomposition makes that impossible.

Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry's crew survived, and nine of them have been arrested or detained in connection with the investigation.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need.

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