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Third mate unfamiliar with waters where South Korean ferry sank

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Saturday, April 19, 2014, 7:18 p.m.

MOKPO, South Korea — The inexperienced third mate at the helm of the South Korean ferry that sank last week had never navigated the challenging waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors said on Saturday.

The third mate, 25, is in custody along with the captain and a third crew member.

The number of confirmed dead rose to 46 when divers broke a window in the submerged ferry and retrieved 10 more bodies, Kim Kwang-hyun, a coast guard official, said on Sunday. These apparently were the first bodies recovered from inside the ferry since it capsized on Wednesday during a journey from the port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju.

“Divers broke through the window of a passenger cabin... and pulled out three bodies,” a coast guard official told the AFP news agency. All three were wearing lifejackets, he said.

Earlier in the day, four bodies were discovered in the murky waters near the ferry, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

Strong currents and rain have prevented divers from searching inside the ferry.

Authorities say 174 passengers have been rescued, 265 remain missing.

Shin Won-nam, the head of the Emergency Management Center, said it was very unlikely someone trapped alive in the capsized boat could have survived this long.

Relatives have begun providing DNA samples to help identify the dead.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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