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Ferry toll hits 156 as search gets tougher

Jindo, South Korea (AP) -- Searchers have now recovered 156 bodies from the waters where a South Korean ferry sank a week ago. And relatives of the nearly 150 people still missing are pressing the government to quickly finish the recovery effort.

But the work is reaching a more complicated phase. An official says divers now have to rip through cabin walls in order to retrieve more victims.

And a sensitive issue is looming in the background -- the issue of when to bring in the cranes and begin the salvage effort by cutting up and raising the submerged ferry. The government has warned that the work might eliminate air pockets that could be sustaining survivors.

Some relatives have given up hope of that. The father of a 17-year-old girl who is among the missing says, "Now we think we have to deal with this realistically." He says families don't want the bodies of victims to decay any further, so the bodies should be removed as quickly as possible.

But another relative of a missing passenger says most families don't want to even think about a salvage effort.

The government hasn't said when that work will begin, but it has said it will be considerate of the families of the missing.

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Washington Times