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Gov't considering declaring special disaster zone over ferry sinking

2014/04/19 18:35

SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) -- The government is considering declaring the areas connected to the deadly ship sinking on Wednesday a special disaster zone, the prime minister's office said Saturday.

"There is a need for swift, government-level support for the area as physical and emotional damages to Ansan city and Jindo-gun are growing," an official from the prime minister's office said.

Ansan is the location of the high school attended by the 325 students aboard the sunken ship. Only 75 out of the 325 students have been rescued with the remaining 250 still missing since their 6,825-ton passenger ship, Sewol, sank in waters off Jindo early Wednesday.

Once declared a special disaster zone, the areas will be entitled to additional government support, including up to 80 percent of the costs associated with the disaster.

Such a declaration is made by the president following a review and approval by a state commission on public safety, the official from the prime minister's office said.

Thousands of rescue workers from both the military and coast guard have been mobilized, along with hundreds of ships and aircraft, to search for any survivors from the sunken ship that was en route to the southern resort island of Jeju from the western port city of Incheon.

The ship was reportedly carrying 476 passengers and crew members, 174 of whom have been rescued, with 30 others confirmed dead so far. The other 272 remain missing.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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