The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol when it sank one week ago survived.

Even with about 150 people still missing, the funeral halls in Ansan are already full, Oh Sang-yoon of the government-wide emergency task force centre said in a statement.

He said the centre "is taking measures to accommodate additional bodies by placing mortuary refrigerators at the funeral halls in Ansan," and directing mourning families to funeral homes in nearby cities.

On Jindo island, where bodies recovered from the ferry are taken, descriptions of the dead are read over a loudspeaker. Relatives rush over to the main notice board and peered at details added by an official.

Some relatives cry out and run from the tent. Others stand red-eyed and shell-shocked.

The number of corpses recovered has risen sharply since the weekend, when divers battling strong currents and low visibility were finally able to enter the submerged vessel. But task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok the work is becoming more difficult, and divers must now break through cabin walls to retrieve more bodies.

"The lounge is one big open space, so once in it we go our search done straight away. But in the case of the cabins, we will have to break down the walls in between because they are all compartments," Koh said.

Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry's crew survived, and 11 have been arrested or detained in connection with the investigation. Two were arrested on Wednesday, senior prosecutor Ang Sang-don said.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. On Tuesday, four crew members were arrested and another two were detained without arrest warrants.

The four crew members arrested yesterday talked to reporters after a court hearing, their faces hidden with caps, hooded sweatshirts and masks.

(Agencies)

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