MOKPO, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon vowed "all-out" efforts to search for the remains of those who are still missing from the sinking of the Sewol ferry four years ago during his inspection of its hull Saturday.

The prime minister traveled to the southwestern port of Mokpo where the hull of the ill-fated ferry is placed for search and inspection. Two days ago, the 6,800-ton vessel, which had been lying on its side since being salvaged in 2017, was lifted to an upright position as search workers try to secure access to the farthest corners of the wreckage.

The ferry sank off the country's southwestern coast near Jindo Island in April 2014, claiming more than 300 lives. Five people are still missing.

"At this point of time, (we) will focus on the search into the hull," the prime minister said during the inspection. "Every effort will be mustered to locate the remains of those missing and find out the cause (of the sinking)," he noted.

He also met with the bereaved families of the victims, pledging to keep informing the families of the on-going search efforts.

A search operation into the hull is expected to start after three weeks of preparations needed to secure the entrance and put in structures to brace the rusty hull.

Source: Yonhap News Agency