Parents suffer through grim search for dead teen ferry passengers

JINDO, South Korea - There is no mystery about the fate of hundreds of high school students trapped in a ferry that sank last week off South Korea. So far 159 bodies have been recovered. Bu families are still waiting for at least 145 more.

Families of the missing wait for the announcement that only confirms what they already know.

It's been eight days since the ferry sank off the South Korean coast. When a body is found in the wreckage, anything that can help identify the person is posted on slips of paper: A female with pink nail polish who had a root canal. Someone else was wearing pants with a flower print. A man with a blue watch.

The details are vivid reminders of a life lost.

The grim postings - on boards and giant TV screens across Jindo - are part of a strange routine for these families: Read the newspaper. Check those posts. Wait.

A family member of missing passengers onboard the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol looks at messages posted at a port where family members are gathered in Jindo April 23, 2014. ISSEI KATO, REUTERS
Most of the missing and dead were students from Danwon high school in Ansan, near Seoul. There are so many funerals planned there that families have been forced to go to neighboring cities to find space for the services.

"Students keep crying while watching news reports," said a senior at the high school.

In Jindo, where the bodies are being brought from the wreckage, yellow ribbons have been pinned up, symbolizing hope.

But the most parents can hope for now is an end to an agonizing wait.