UPDATE : 2018.9.24 MON 18:27
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Gov't begins final check on salvaging plan for Sewol ferry

The South Korean government ran a final test Sunday on its plan to refloat a ferry that sank off the country's southwestern tip of the peninsula three years ago, a disaster that killed more than 300 people.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it began to conduct a final test run at 6:00 a.m. on the wires that connect two jack-up barges with the hull of the sunken Sewol ferry to bring it up to the surface.

This file photo shows the bottom tip of the Sewol ferry after it capsized off the southwestern coast, while the Coast Guard searches for survivors on April 16, 2014. (Yonhap)

In a joint effort with a Chinese salvage firm, the test will actually attempt to lift the ferry one to two meters from the seabed by using oil pressure, the ministry said.

It is crucial that the 66 wires on the two barges move up at the same time to safely lift up the ferry, adding that it will take two or three hours until the result becomes known.

On Saturday, the government said it canceled its plan to salvage the ship the following day, citing bad weather. The operation will thus likely take place on April 5, when the next neap tide is expected, according to the ministry.

The operation involves lifting the 145 meterlong, 6,825-ton ship above the water. Once hoisted, it is expected to take another four days to transport the ferry to a port in Mokpo, some 87 kilometers away from the site of the accident.

The Sewol sank off the country's southwestern coast while en route to the southern resort island of Jeju on April 16, 2014. The accident, one of the nation's worst maritime disasters, killed 304 people, with nine of them still missing.

Kim Hyung-dae  edt@koreapost.com

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