South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries confirmed Wednesday that remains found at the site of a 2014 ferry disaster were animal bones and not from one of the victims.
Salvage crews found the bones Tuesday, and authorities initially said they were believed to be human. That raised hopes for some family members of the nine people whose bodies were never recovered after the ferry capsized.
There were a total of 476 people on board, many of them high school students, when the ship went down as it traveled from Incheon to the holiday resort of Jeju Island. A total of 304 people died in what is one of the country’s worst maritime disasters.
Crews raised the ship’s wreckage last week, and the bones were found at that site.
The disaster quickly highlighted the government’s inadequate emergency protocol, but it also exposed deep-seated issues of corruption and failed regulations, sparking public outrage that in part fueled the recent ouster of President Park Geun-hye.
The ferry’s captain Lee Joon-seok, who abandoned ship, was convicted of gross negligence and sentenced to life in prison, while 14 other crew members were sentenced to up to 12 years in prison for abandonment and violating maritime law.