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South Korea Ferry Disaster: Divers Feel for Bodies in Dark

The divers, with oxygen and communications lines trailing, can only see a few inches in front of them.

Divers were breaking through cabin walls to retrieve more bodies from the sunken South Korea ferry on Wednesday, authorities said as the death toll reached 150.

Poor visibility is making the grim work of recovering bodies even tougher as the search continued for 152 further people missing – many of them high school students – for more than a week inside the doomed Sewol.

"We are trained for hostile environments, but it's hard to be brave when we meet bodies in dark water," diver Hwang Dae-sik told Reuters.

The divers, with oxygen and communications lines trailing, can only see a few inches in front of them, feeling for bodies with their hands as they swim through a maze of cabins, corridors and upturned decks.

A search of the cafeteria, where many of the teens gathered as the ship began to sink, led to the discovery of many bodies – but the task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok the work is becoming more difficult.

"The lounge is one big open space, so once in it we got 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.

Meanwhile, prosecutors investigating the April 16 sinking raided the home of Yoo Byung-un, the head of a family that owns the Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, the company that operated the vessel. Yonhap news agency reported that Yoo's home - and a church in which he is believed to have an interest - were raided Wednesday.

The prosecutors' office declined to comment and Reuters correspondents at the church in Seoul said it had been locked. The finances of Chonghaejin and its complex share structure have come into the spotlight in recent days. Yoo was jailed for fraud for four years in the early 1990s.

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 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.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

- Carlo Angerer and Alastair Jamieson