S Korea admits body ID blunders

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The South Korean government has conceded that some bodies from the ferry disaster have been misidentified and announced changes to prevent such mistakes from happening again.

There have been several reports in South Korean media this week of bodies going to the wrong families, with the error sometimes caught only after the remains were taken to a funeral home.

An “action plan” released by the government-wide emergency task force acknowledged “there have been cases where the victims were wrongly transferred”.

Remains will be transferred to families when there is a match using DNA testing or fingerprint or dental records, the task force said. The transfer will be temporary when a body is matched though identification or physical description, and authorities will wait for more authoritative evidence before making the transfer permanent.

Divers have recovered 183 bodies so far, but 119 are feared dead in the dark rooms of the submerged vessel Sewol.

The ferry sank on April 16 on its way from Incheon port to the southern tourist island of Jeju. More than 80 per cent of the 302 dead and missing are students from a single high school in Ansan, south of Seoul.