The diver stopped responding five minutes into his first attempt on the Sewol, and was brought to the surface by a group of other divers. Following the death, South Korea’s prime minister Chung Hong-won has ordered health-checks to be carried out on all divers attending the wreck.
Although the cause of the sinking has yet to be determined, investigators have noted that the vessel was carrying 3,608 tons of cargo - more than three times the safe limit. The vessel was carrying 476 passengers and crew at the time of the sinking, 339 of who were children and teachers on a school trip. 174 survivors have been rescued.
Reports suggest passengers were not instructed to put on life jackets and were told to remain in their cabins while crew fled the sinking vessel. The South Korean coast guard have confirmed that a passenger, not a member of the crew, made the first distress call.
Captain Lee Joon-seok as well as 14 other crew members have been arrested, with South Korean authorities bringing various criminal charges – possibly including negligent homicide, according to some reports – although Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned the tragedy as “akin to murder”.
The chairman of the Korean Register (KR), which classed the Sewol, resigned in late April.