A Chinese-led consortium has begun preliminary work on salvaging a South Korean ferry that sank last year in a disaster that killed more than 300 people.

Earlier this month, South Korea awarded a contract to the consortium led by China's state-run Shanghai Salvage Co. for a project to raise the ferry. Shanghai was involved in lifting a cruise ship that sank in China's Yangtze River in June, killing more than 400 people.

The Oceans Ministry says a diver worked underwater Wednesday to examine conditions at the site.

It says divers plan to do more underwater work such as photographing the ferry to help develop a salvage plan.

The bodies of 295 people have been recovered. Nine others are still missing.

Most of the victims were high school students.