Bones discovered Tuesday by salvage workers aboard a semi-submersible vessel carrying the raised ferry Sewol were animal remains, forensic tests have confirmed.
According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, six bones of 4 to 18 cm in length were discovered on the deck of the ferry at 11:25 a.m., raising fears that they were human remains. The discovery was made close to the steering house of the Sewol. Three black shoes were also found at the site.
The discovery prompted salvage efforts to come to a grinding halt due to concerns that the remains of more missing passengers are hidden inside the vessel.
The ministry called an emergency press conference at 4:30 p.m. to announce the discovery, and Vice Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Yoon Hak-bae met with the families of the missing. Accompanied by forensic experts, the families boarded a boat and rushed to the scene.
But forensic experts said they are the leg bones of pigs.
The ministry called another press conference at 9 p.m. to apologize for the hasty announcement. A ministry official said, "The bones were buried in mud and it was difficult to make an accurate assessment. We had no idea that animal bones would be found at the salvage site."
A ministry official said apologized for causing confusion and upset to the victims' families and promised it will not happen again. The wreck will be taken to Mokpo on Thursday as scheduled.
Families of victims still missing in the 2014 ferry disaster watch the recovery work on the vessel on Tuesday. /Newsis