Death toll in South Korea ferry disaster climbs to 260

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JINDO, South Korea (CNN) — The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has jumped to 260, with 42 people still missing, the government reported Monday.

The higher death toll comes after 11 more bodies were retrieved from the fourth deck of the Sewol ferry, according to South Korea’s Government Rescue Headquarters.

On Sunday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited the port where the rescue operation is based, to console families and encourage divers.

More than 100 divers are combing the ship room by room, looking for the remaining missing bodies.

The search and rescue operation has turned into a grueling recovery of corpses. No one has been found alive since the ferry sank April 16, with a passenger load largely made up of high school students on a field trip.

The work has become even more difficult because divers have faced closed cabin doors blocked by debris.

Corralling the debris has been difficult for search teams.

Mattresses and clothing from the ship have been found up to 9 miles (15 km) away from the accident site, said Park Seung-ki, a spokesman for the rescue operation.

Large stow and trawler nets will be set up around the sunken ship to catch items that may float away, he said.

The ferry sank en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju, off the nation’s southwestern coast.

By Ed Payne and Stella Kim

CNN’s Stella Kim reported from Jindo; Ed Payne wrote from Atlanta

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