2nd diver dies in search of South Korean ferry

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May. 30, 2014 5:26 AM EDT

2nd diver dies in search of South Korean ferry
A boy prays near paper ships with messages to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014. More than 300 people are dead or missing in the water off the southern coast in the disaster that caused widespread grief, anger and shame. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Children pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014. More than 300 people are dead or missing in the water off the southern coast in the disaster that caused widespread grief, anger and shame. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A girl reads massages written on paper ships for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014. More than 300 people are dead or missing in the water off the southern coast in the disaster that caused widespread grief, anger and shame. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A girl cries during a rally to pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol, in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Divers battled strong currents and wind Saturday to search unopened rooms in the sunken South Korean ferry for dozens of missing passengers, officials said Saturday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A girl prays in front of paper ships bearing messages for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014. More than 300 people are dead or missing in the water off the southern coast in the disaster that caused widespread grief, anger and shame. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Family members of passengers aboard the sunken ferry Sewol stand to protest delays in the search operation at a group memorial altar in Ansan, South Korea, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Divers battled strong currents and wind Saturday to search unopened rooms in the sunken South Korean ferry for dozens of missing passengers, officials said Saturday. The letters at cards read "Save children and call for thorough investigations into the ferry sinking." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A boy ties a yellow ribbon with a message for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014. More than 300 people are dead or missing in the water off the southern coast in the disaster that caused widespread grief, anger and shame. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, boards a coast guard vessel at a port of Jindo, South Korea, to head to the site where the ferry Sewol sank in waters off the southern coast, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Park told families of those missing in the sunken ferry that her heart breaks knowing what they are going through, as divers recovered two more bodies on Sunday. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, center, talks with a diver at the site where the ferry Sewol sank in waters off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Park told families of those missing in the sunken ferry that her heart breaks knowing what they are going through, as divers recovered two more bodies on Sunday. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, consoles a relative of a passenger aboard the ferry Sewol at the site where the ship sank in waters off the southern coast near Jindo,, South Korea, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Park told families of those missing in the sunken ferry that her heart breaks knowing what they are going through, as divers recovered two more bodies on Sunday. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A civilian diver died Friday during the search for people still believed trapped inside a sunken South Korean ferry, the second diver's death in the six-week operation.

Government and civilian divers were mobilized after the ferry sank on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.

A boom and a moan were heard via communication devices then fellow divers pulled the man to the surface as he fell unconscious, government task force spokesman Ko Myung-seok told a televised briefing.

The diver was bleeding on his face, received CPR and was taken to a hospital on a helicopter but was declared dead there, Ko said. The man whose surname was Lee was 46. His exact cause of his death wasn't known.

Ko said Lee was cutting open parts of the ship exterior to make searches easier. No bodies have been retrieved since May 21 as heavy objects like desks and cabinets have made it difficult for divers to navigate through unsearched parts of the ship, according to task force officials.

Since the sinking, 288 bodies have been recovered but 16 people are still missing. Only 172 people survived.

A 53-year-old civilian diver died earlier this month after becoming unconscious during a search attempt. He was pulled to the surface after losing communication five minutes into the search.

Officials have said they won't lift up the ship until family members of the missing people approves amid worries that works to hoist the ship may lead to damaging the bodies of those people.

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