Bones found on sunken Korea ferry 'are from animals, not humans'

Bone fragments found at the site of the sunken Sewol ferry off South Korea have turned out to be from an animal, and not any of the nine missing victims of the 2014 disaster.

The six pieces of bone ranging in size from four to 18 cm in length were recovered from the wreck on Tuesday, sparking hopes among relatives of those missing that they might finally know the fate of their loved ones.

The official in charge of the salvage operation, Lee Cheol-jo, told reporters earlier they appeared to come from at least one of the unrecovered victims.

However, forensic tests on the fragments quickly confirmed that they came from an animal.

Earlier, Mr Cheol-jo said the remains "are suspected to have been found among sand that leaked out from an opening at the entrance of the vessel or through a window".

Shoes and other personal items presumed to have belonged to the victims have also been found by crews working on the vessel.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 304 people, many of whom were schoolchildren, but only 295 bodies were recovered from the wreck.

Nine remaining victims - four schoolchildren, two teachers and a married couple and their child - were unaccounted for after the tragedy.

The bones were discovered after the wreck was brought back to the surface last week.

The Sewol was structurally unsound, overloaded and sailing too fast on a turn when it capsized and sank off the southwest coast of South Korea in April 2014.

Underwater searches of the ship were ended by the government in November 2014, seven months after it sank.

The raising of the ferry was a key demand of the families of the missing victims and is thought to be one of the largest ever recoveries of a wreck in one piece.

The process has cost more than $82m (£65.3m) and the ferry will now be taken to the port of Mokpo on South Korea's southern coast on Thursday.