Eight more bodies were recovered yesterday from the ferry that sank off South Korea last month, reports said, amid concern some of the missing may never be found.
Seventeen days after the 6,825-tonne Sewol capsized and sank, 236 people have been confirmed dead with 66 still unaccounted for, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Divers battled strong currents yesterday to search unopened rooms in the sunken ferry for missing passengers. Emergency task force spokesman Ko Myung-seok said 58 out of 64 target areas had been searched.
"It took a while to develop routes, but after the routes were developed to some degree, opening up the rooms and getting inside worked out in a short period of time," Ko said.
The bodies of 236 victims have been retrieved, with 195 found inside the ferry and 41 found floating in the sea.
Park Seung-ki, spokesman for the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said bedding materials from the ship were found as far as 30 kilometres from the disaster site on Friday.
Watch: Tragic video shows joking students on South Korea ferry
As days go by, personal belongings and debris from the ship have been spotted further and further away, fuelling concerns that strong currents may have swept some bodies into the open sea. As a precaution, recovery workers put rings of netting around the site days ago.
The relatives of the missing are insisting that all the bodies be recovered before efforts begin to raise the ferry. Park said families were worried about the condition of the bodies, since so much time had passed.
"To ease the families' mental pain and help them keep better memories of the victims, the government will provide restoration services for damaged bodies."
The Sewol capsized on April 16 with 476 people on board - more than 300 of them pupils from Danwon High School in Ansan, just south of Seoul.
It was one of South Korea's worst peacetime disasters, with greed and irresponsibility being blamed for the poor handling of the catastrophe.
The captain and 14 of his crew have been arrested for being the first to leave the ship, without helping all passengers to safety.
The Sewol's usual captain, who was off duty on the day of the accident, has told prosecutors that the ferry operator - Chonghaejin Marine - "brushed aside" repeated warnings that the 20-year-old ship had stability issues following a 2012 renovation.
Two Chonghaejin officials were arrested on Friday on charges of having the ferry overloaded well beyond its legal limit.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse