A 6,800-ton South Korean ferry emerged from the water on Thursday, nearly three years after it capsized and sank into violent seas off the country's southwestern coast. It was an emotional moment for the country that continues to search for closure to one of its deadliest disasters ever, the AP reports. More than 300 people—most of whom were students on a high school trip—died when the Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, touching off an outpouring of national grief and soul searching about long-ignored public safety and regulatory failures. The public outrage over what was seen as a botched rescue job by the government contributed to the recent ouster of Park Geun-hye as president.
Workers on two barges began the salvaging operation Wednesday night, rolling up 66 cables connected to a frame of metal beams divers spent months putting beneath the ferry, which had been lying on its left side in about 144 feet of water. Once Sewol is raised to the desired point, salvage crews will then load the ferry onto a semi-submersible, heavy-lift vessel that will carry it to a mainland port. The bodies of 295 passengers were recovered after the sinking on April 16, 2014, but nine are still missing. Relatives, some of whom who are watching from two fishing boats just outside the operation area, are hoping those remains will be found inside the ferry.