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Korea school official kills himself over ferry disaster

Mokpo/Jindo (South Korea), April 18 (Reuters): The vice-principal of a South Korean high school who accompanied hundreds of his pupils on what turned out to be a disastrous ferry trip has committed suicide, police said today.

Kang Min-gyu, 52, had been missing since yesterday. He appeared to have hanged himself with his belt from a tree outside a gym in the port city of Jindo where relatives of the people missing on the ship, mostly children from the school, were gathered.

Police said Kang did not leave a suicide note and that they started looking for him after he was reported missing by a fellow-teacher. He was rescued from the ferry after it capsized on Wednesday

Of the 475 passengers and crew on the ferry, 28 people had been officially been declared dead before Kang’s suicide and 179 were rescued. The overwhelming majority of the missing are students from the Danwon High School on the outskirts of Seoul, who were on a holiday trip.

Divers are fighting strong tides and murky waters to get to the sunken ship but the likelihood of finding any of the missing alive is slim.

At the high school in Ansan, an industrial town near Seoul, many friends and family of the missing gathered in sombre silence, with occasional sounds of sobbing breaking the quiet. “When I first received the call telling me the news, at that time I still had hope.”

 
 
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