On the 22nd day into the search, 269 people have been confirmed dead and 33 are still missing, Xinhua reported. No survivor has been reported since 174 people were saved from the ship and sea April 16.
The 6,825-ton passenger ferry Sewol sank in waters off Jindo island in the country's southwestern tip. Two-thirds of the 476 passengers aboard the ill-fated vessel were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city south of Seoul.
Search operations intensified as tidal currents slowed from Wednesday. The speed of currents in the area was expected to fall to as low as 1.2 metres per second after staying at 2-3 metres per second. The area is known for the country's second-fastest currents.
Koh Myung-seok, spokesman of the pan-government accident response centre, told a press briefing that a total of 116 divers will be dispatched to make all-out efforts for search operations in the period of slower currents.
The search and rescue team completed the first-stage search into 64 passenger cabins where many bodies were believed to be trapped.