South Korea undertook Wednesday to refloat the 6800-tonne ferry that sank in 2014, killing more than 300 people.
A representative of the Department of Oceans said that the work began after several hours of preparation. Employees aboard two barges slid 66 cables under the wreck of the Sewol, which rests on its left flank in about 40 meters of water. These cables are connected to a metal frame that divers have assembled over the past few months.
The ministry believes the operation will lift the upper portion of the ferry about 13 meters above the surface by Thursday if the weather conditions remain stable.
Workers will then undertake to place the wreck on a semi-submersible lifesaving platform that will transport it to a port. This portion of the operation, which also involves emptying the ferry of the water and the fuel it contains, will take several days.
The bodies of 295 passengers were recovered after the 16 April 2014 sinking, but nine have never been recovered. Their relatives hope that their remains will always be on board the ship.
The sinking had provoked a real national crisis. The captain of the ferry survived the disaster and is now serving a life sentence after being convicted of intentional negligence as he left the ship without issuing an evacuation order.
South Korea had awarded a US $ 76 million contract in 2015 to a Chinese company to recover the Sewol.