MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of ferry passengers still missing Friday and feared dead, as fresh questions emerged about whether quicker action by the captain of the doomed ship could have saved lives. Officials also offered a rare glimpse at their investigations, saying they were looking into whether a crewman's order to abruptly turn the ship contributed to the 6,852-ton Sewol ferry tilting severely to the side and filling with water Wednesday.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Following is the transcript released by the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries of the conversation between Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) on Jeju Island and The Sewol, the ferry that sank on Wednesday. The original transcript is in Korean and the translation was done by The Associated Press. It starts off form the first distress call made by the ferry: Radio conversation on VHF (very high frequency) Channel 12
ANSAN, South Korea (AP) — The most poignant reminders of what's been lost here are the most ordinary. Desks in the classrooms of Danwon High School in Ansan, where dozens of students were missing and feared dead Thursday after a ferry disaster, are cluttered with textbooks, gym clothes, empty water bottles — small bits of ordinary school life now infused with heartbreak.
PERTH, Australia (AP) — A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane. It was the fifth attempt by the Bluefin-21 unmanned sub to find wreckage or the black boxes from Flight 370 in a distant patch of seabed. The sub, which can create sonar maps of the ocean bottom, has now covered 110 square kilometers (42 square miles) of the silt-covered seabed, but has thus far found nothing, the search coordination center said. The sub's last mission hit a record depth beyond its recommended diving parameters, which can potentially cause risk to the equipment, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement. However, it is being closely monitored.
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest on Friday along a route used to climb the world's highest peak, killing at least six Nepalese guides and leaving nine missing, officials said. The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for hundreds of climbers when the avalanche hit them just below Camp 2 about 6:30 a.m., said Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal, speaking from the base camp where he is monitoring the rescue efforts.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is sending condolences to victims of a South Korean ferry disaster and says he will pay tribute during a visit to the country next week. Obama said at a White House news conference Thursday that the United States has an "unwavering commitment" to its ally South Korea in good times and bad. He says he will underscore that when he is in the country for a previously planned trip.
BEIJING (AP) — China's government says in a report that nearly one-fifth of the country's farmland is polluted, mostly from yearslong accumulations of toxins from factories, mining and agriculture. The report raises sharp concerns about the country's food safety after years of unbridled industrialization.
SYDNEY (AP) — Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, have enjoyed a sheep-shearing demonstration and greeted crowds of flower-bearing fans at an agricultural fair in Sydney. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent Friday morning at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, an annual fair that brings country life to the city with animals, rides and wood-chopping competitions.
SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines (AP) — Devotees in northern Philippine villages had themselves nailed to wooded crosses to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as thousands of local and foreign spectators watched the bloody annual rites to mark Good Friday in Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation. Church leaders and health officials have spoken against the practice which mixes Roman Catholic devotion with folk belief, but the annual rites continue to draw participants and huge crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province.
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Coast guard officials say divers have begun pumping air into a submerged South Korean ship 48 hours after it listed and sank. But it wasn't immediately clear if the air was for survivors or for a salvage operation. Strong currents and bad weather have so far prevented divers from searching for more than 270 people missing since the ferry listed and sank on Wednesday. Officials said Friday in a statement that divers were still trying to enter the ship.
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has withdrawn as the host of the 2019 Asian Games, saying it lacked funds and the country's reputation could be at risk if things don't go smoothly. The government's initial decision to host the games had generated little excitement domestically, and there had increasing opposition in the media and on blogs. Many questioned whether the cost — in the hundreds of millions of dollars — was worth it given the country was still struggling to emerge from the global financial crisis.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The head of the commission of inquiry that accused North Korea of crimes against humanity told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that it must take action against "a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world," and he told reporters that most council members "expressly said" the matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court. It was the first time the council had met to discuss the unprecedented U.N. report that contains graphic details and an urgent call to action. The informal meeting comes as members of the commission push for its findings to be formally referred to the council and the ICC.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A spokesman for a controversial Pakistani cleric who runs an Islamic seminary for girls in the capital, Islamabad, says he has named the school's new library in honor of Osama bin Laden. According to the spokesman, Tehsin Ullah, cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz wanted to pay tribute to the al-Qaida chief who was killed by U.S. commandos in 2011.
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Kim Jeong-keun woke up on his cabin bed to find out his friends had smeared lipstick on his face while he had been asleep, a prank harking back to their school days. The 60-year-old Kim took it in good spirits and washed his face. After all, they were traveling together on a reunion voyage aboard The Sewol, celebrating their birthdays and remembering good old days from their elementary school in Incheon city, where the ferry departed Tuesday evening.
RAJNANDGAON, India (AP) — Indians cast ballots Thursday on the biggest day of voting in the country's weekslong general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence over the plight of India's marginalized and poor. Nationwide voting began April 7 and runs through May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later. Among the 13 key states voting Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the center of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India's 28 states.
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