The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a statement Saturday that search crews have recovered more suspected human bones from within the wreck of the ferry Sewol. In addition to the bones, a search team recovered a gold tooth from a cabin towards the aft end of the fourth deck.
Sources reported that the tooth may have belonged to Cho Eun-hwa, one of the hundreds of students who died in the sinking. Cho's personal effects were found in the same compartment. The Ministry noted that DNA testing will be required to confirm this report, a process that will take about one month.
More bones were also recovered from the fourth deck over the weekend, adding to finds that have been accumulating since last Wednesday. According to the ministry's daily updates, the teams have also found over 1,700 personal items in the countless bags of mud and debris they have removed from the hull. The detailed tally is a sobering reminder of the extent of the tragedy: 818 pieces of clothing; 199 shoes; 56 cell phones; 40 pairs of eyeglasses; 144 bags; 127 electronic devices; and 354 miscellaneous possessions.
Over 300 passengers and crew were lost in the Sewol's sinking, and nine bodies remain missing. The victims' families successfully petitioned the South Korean government to raise the wreck in one piece, allowing investigators to search for the last missing bodies and to examine the wreck for any further evidence related to the disaster. It was the deepest lift of a complete hull ever carried out.
Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in is widely expected to reopen a high-level investigation into the loss of the Sewol. Many of those closest to the accident have already been punished: Captain Lee Jun-seok was sentenced to life in prison for the crime of “murder through willful negligence"; 14 other crewmembers received up to 12 years in jail; the president of the vessel's operator and four other company executives were sentenced to three to seven years; and the president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was impeached and removed from office, due in part to alleged mishandling of the accident response.