S Korea's sunken Sewol ferry reaches port at last

S Korea's sunken Sewol ferry reaches port at last
The wreck of the Sewol ferry arrives at a port in Mokpo on March 31, 2017.
PHOTO: AFP

Mokpo, South Korea - The salvaged wreck of South Korea's Sewol ferry finally reached port Friday, nearly three years after setting out on a doomed voyage that killed more than 300 people.

A semi-submersible ship carrying the wreck docked alongside a pier at the southwestern harbour of Mokpo, an AFP photographer on the scene said.

Police walk in front of the wreck of the Sewol ferry after it arrived at a port in Mokpo on March 31, 2017.Photo: AFP

The vessel was raised from the sea floor in one piece in a complex salvage operation before being transferred to the semi-submersible for the 105-kilometre (66 miles) journey to the port, where investigators will search it.

Almost all of the dead were schoolchildren and nine of the victims have never been found, leaving the possibility that they could still be trapped inside.

The lifting ship was escorted by a smaller boat carrying relatives of the nine missing, as well as five patrol craft.

"This is only the beginning. I always see my daughter in dreams," said Park Eun-Mi, whose daughter Huh Da-Yun has not been found.

"We must find all the nine missing people and return them to the bosom of their families", she told journalists.

Underwater fences have been installed surrounding the area where the Sewol sank and divers will also search the waters and seabed there.

The salvage came as the third anniversary approached of one of the country's worst-ever maritime disasters, which dealt a crushing blow to now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye.

Investigations concluded the disaster was the result of factors including an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay and inexperienced crew.

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Read also: S Korea salvage operators raise Sewol ferry
Bad weather again delays lifting of S Korean ferry
S.Korea media slam govt over ferry 'remains'
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