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Thursday
Apr242014

South Korean Ferry: Death Toll Rises Amid Harsh Search Conditions

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Search teams continue to pull more bodies from the South Korean ferry that sank over a week ago.

As of Thursday, at least 171 people have been confirmed dead with 131 others still missing. So far, 174 people have been rescued, including all 12 of the ferry's crew.

The latest jump in the death toll comes as divers working to retrieve bodies are finding the job "extremely difficult."

“Divers can’t see anything,” Park Kyung Hoon, a diving team captain for the Blue Dragon Training Corp., told ABC News.

Park volunteered along with other divers when he heard about the April 16 tragedy. His team has been collaborating with the South Korean Coast Guard, but search efforts have been hindered by surging currents that stir up the silty bottom into a muddy soup.

Divers initially brought out bodies that were in the ship's lounge but now must break through cabin walls to retrieve other victims.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio