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(LEAD) Final stage of testing begins before moving Sewol ferry onto land

All Headlines 17:14 April 08, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with latest information; CHANGES headline)

MOKPO, South Korea, April 8 (Yonhap) -- Workers started the final phase of testing on Saturday that could move the salvaged wreck of the Sewol ferry onto land if successful, government officials said.

Lee Cheol-jo, a senior government official in charge of the salvage operation, told reporters that workers will try to move the ferry onto land on Sunday if the final test succeeds.

Salvage workers have been trying to move the ferry onto land at the port of Mokpo, some 410 kilometers southwest of Seoul, from a semisubmersible transport ship. The ferry was raised from the bottom of the sea last month.

But the land-transfer operation has run into an obstacle, as the ferry is estimated to weigh about 16,000 tons due to water and mud that has entered the hull.

A total of 600 module transporters, or platform vehicles with a large array of wheels used to move massive objects, have been deployed, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The vessel sank off the country's southwestern coast near Jindo Island in April 2014, claiming more than 300 lives, mostly high school students on a school excursion. Nine of them still remain missing.

When the ferry is put in dry dock, it will be searched thoroughly for the remains of the victims.

(LEAD) Final stage of testing begins before moving Sewol ferry onto land - 1


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