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September 22, 2017

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S. Korea parliament to begin ferry probe

SEOUL--South Korea's parliament is to open an investigation into the ferry disaster that has left 300 people dead or missing, politicians confirmed Sunday, as the government counters criticism of its handling of the tragedy.

A special parliamentary session will open this week and a number of committees will begin work from Monday, the government and opposition said, dedicated to confirming the cause of and responsibility for the sinking of the Sewol.

Park Young-sun, of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said the session would focus on "a (parliamentary) investigation, the nomination of a special prosecutor and hearings."

The ruling Sanuri party's leader of parliament Lee Wan-koo told a joint press conference it would "make efforts ... to prevent a recurrence of such a disaster."

The confirmed death toll stands at 275 with 29 still unaccounted for, more than three weeks after the ship capsized off the country's southern coast.

Victims' families have been extremely critical of nearly every aspect of the government's handling of the disaster, and had demanded a government investigation in addition to the police's efforts.

They want explanations for perceived delays in the initial rescue effort, and are calling for those they believe responsible to be punished.

The recovery operation remained suspended Sunday due to a looming storm and high tides.

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