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Pottstown company helping with ferry search

Published On: Apr 24 2014 09:34:12 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2014 10:22:30 PM CDT

Pottstown company helping with ferry search

POTTSTOWN, Pa. -

More than 130 people remain missing after a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea more than a week ago.

About 700 divers are working at the scene as family members remain desperate for answers.

One of the companies helping in that recovery effort is based in Montgomery County.

VideoRay, LLC is tucked away in downtown Pottstown.

It manufactures remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that can search for objects up to 1,000 feet underwater.

The ROVs are a mere 12 inches in diameter, allowing them to fit into small spaces divers cannot  reach.

They also can remain underwater for days, providing video, lighting and sonar information to divers on the surface.

So when the South Korean Coast Guard called for assistance in the ferry recovery, it was a no-brainer.   

"Immediately your mind goes to, what an awful tragedy and how heartbroken you are for those families. But it is nice working for this company because I knew immediately that there was something we could do about it," said VideoRay marketing coordinator Kate McGarry.

Ferry Sewol sunk off the coast of Jindo Island, South Korea last Wednesday, bringing down more than 300 people, mainly high school students, with it.

Rescuers have been working for more than a week to recover the bodies, however water conditions are hampering their effort.

So earlier this week, VideoRay shipped out two ROVs and operators to help.

You can see fairly clearly through the water, however underwater where the ferry sank, the water is much more murky, making machines like this extremely helpful in the underwater recovery.

"Surrounding the wreck, currents were very swift. The water temperature is very cold and the water, because it was so murky, there is only about 20 centimeters of visibility," said McGarry.

Specialists are hoping this technology will be the key to finding more than 130 people still lost at sea.

"There are people down there. A lot of times you just hear about body counts. But there are people with families and we want to give those families some closure the best way we can," said McGarry.

More than 170 bodies have now been recovered.

Authorities still do not know what caused it to sink, but the captain and other crew members have been arrested.