Hope Looks Lost in Ferry Search
No air pockets found as toll rises to 156
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 23, 2014 9:34 AM CDT
A man reads messages wishing for the safe return of passengers at a gymnasium where relatives of passengers wait for their missing loved ones in Jindo, South Korea, Wednesday, April 23, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Hope for more survivors in the South Korea ferry disaster is fading after divers were unable to find air pockets on the ship's third and fourth floors; that's where they believed passengers might have been, CNN reports. Authorities have now recovered 156 bodies, and hundreds of people gathered at a memorial today in a basketball arena in the city of Ansan. Photographs of teen victims were displayed on an altar as visitors—who included relatives, students, and officials—wept, the New York Times reports. Still, the effort remains a rescue operation, officials have said.

South Koreans labeled their country a "land of disasters" following a string of incidents over the course of a decade beginning in 1993; they included a plane crash, another ferry sinking, a gas explosion, and the collapses of a bridge and a department store, the Times reports. Many had believed that period to be over, and they're furious at what appears to be continuing disregard for safety. "In Korea, people who insist on abiding by basic rules are often considered annoying or inflexible, while those who are adept at dodging them are seen as smart,” says the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, via the Times. “But the country is full of such smart people, and the result has been catastrophic.”