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Wednesday
Apr232014

Death Toll Mounts in South Korean Ferry Sinking

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- One week after a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea, the death toll continues to climb.

As of Wednesday, at least 156 people have been confirmed dead with 146 others still missing. There are 174 known survivors, including all 12 of the ferry's crew.

The updated death count comes as South Korean prosecutors are considering charges of accidental homicide against the captain, third mate and helmsman of the ferry, which sank last Wednesday. Most of the victims were high school students on the ferry for a field trip.

According to prosecutors, Captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the ferry sank. By then, the ship had tilted so much that many of the missing were not able to escape.

Divers reached the interior of the sunken ferry earlier this week but their mission has been made more difficult by murky waters and strong currents. The search involves areas of the vessel where passengers were told to stay.

As of Wednesday, weather conditions had improved. The recovery effort also involves 212 boats, 34 aircraft and 550 rescue workers.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio