Angry relatives of some of the more than 130 people still missing from the sinking of the ferry Sewol surrounded the fisheries minister and the coast- guard chief.
The families prevented the pair from leaving the area where families have been waiting for word of their loved ones for more than a week.
It was the latest expression of fury and desperation in a disaster filled with signs that the government did too little to protect passengers. An opposition politician said he has a document showing that the ferry was carrying far more cargo than it should have been.
Relatives of the missing passengers surrounded oceans and fisheries Minister Lee Ju-young, regional coastguard chief Kim Seok-kyun and deputy chief Choi Sang-hwan. The men sat on the ground under a tent where details about the recovered dead, now numbering 171, are posted.
Some of the relatives shouted at the officials, accusing them of lying about the operation, demanding that the search continue through the night and asking why hundreds of civilian divers have not been allowed to join coastguard and navy personnel in searching for bodies. Some of the relatives wept.
Mr Kim said: “We, too, feel the way you do. We are trying to bring all the equipment that we can.”
The government has said the search is becoming more difficult because divers must now break through cabin walls to find more bodies. Many of the bodies already retrieved were in a larger lounge area.
Eleven crew members, including the captain, have been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need as the ferry sank. Arrest warrants have been issued against four of the crew.