The government said Friday it is making all out effort to successfully raise the Sewol ferry on the last day of favorable weather conditions, as the salvage team removes a ramp that has held up progress.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said that as of 6:45 a.m., the joint team of the government and a Shanghai salvage firm, cut off all four hinges of the left rear ramp that has been hanging down under water and hindering the recovery operation.
Two salvage barges on Thursday raised the 145-meter-long, 6,825-ton ship that had been lying about 40 meters under water, some three years after it capsized off the southwest coast of the peninsula near the island of Jindo, while en route to the resort island of Jeju on April 16, 2014.
Its sinking, the worst maritime disaster in the country's history, left 304 people dead, with nine of them still missing.
After the team removes the ramp, the final leg of the salvaging process should gain speed, which involves loading the ship onto a semisubmersible vessel and transporting it to a nearby port in Mokpo. This process needs to be completed by midnight when the neap tide is expected to end. The next neap is not until April 5.
The government said it has so far hoisted the upper part of the hull some 12 meters above sea level, with one more meter to go as they need to raise it 13 meters for a safe loading onto the semisubmersible ship.
Efforts to lift the Sewol started early Wednesday following several hours of careful examination of the weather conditions because the sea must be fairly calm.
It will take about eight days to lift the ship and move it to port, and then take an additional four days to move it onto a dry dock, the ministry said. (Yonhap)