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The third officer was at the helm of the ferry that capsized off South Korea, investigators said, as divers worked to access the sunken hull.A total of 268 people - including scores of high school students - remain missing after Wednesday's disaster.Twenty-eight people are now known to have died and 179 were rescued.It is not clear why the ferry sank, but experts have suggested it either hit a rock or turned sharply, unbalancing the vessel as cargo shifted.The vessel - named Sewol - had been travelling from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within a period of two hours, officials said.

As cargo shifted? As cargo moved, does it mean that? Cargo moved and then ferry became unbalaned?

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    Yes, the cargo moved relative to the ferry, changing its balance. – CowperKettle Apr 18 '14 at 10:54
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    I believe that shifted is the verb invariably used when cargo slides across the deck of a ship or aircraft. – J.R. Apr 18 '14 at 12:02
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True, you nailed it.

...or turned sharply, unbalancing the vessel as cargo shifted.

...means due to sharp turn, the goods that vessel was carrying moved from one place to another. The goods were large enough in mass that they were capable to unbalance the whole ship.

In seas, driving is very difficult and balancing a vehicle is not in just our hands (waves play crucial role) as we have better control of the vehicles on the roads.

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    I think I agree with JR's comment above. – BobRodes Apr 18 '14 at 14:15
  • @Bob - shifting is used for ground vessels as well. Check out this advice from moving companies: Loading a truck can be like a game of Tetris .. a packed moving truck will prevent items from shifting. Pack items tight, like a jigsaw puzzle – all space should be filled to avoid shifting. Avoid overloading cartons, but strive for a firm pack that will prevent items from shifting. – J.R. Apr 18 '14 at 14:33
  • @BobRodes and what you think went wrong with this answer? – Maulik V Apr 18 '14 at 14:40
  • I think I agree with this comment: "I believe that shifted is the verb invariably used when cargo slides across the deck of a ship or aircraft." At least, I can't think of any other word that would be used in such a circumstance. I don't see anything wrong with this answer, except a couple of grammatical errors. – BobRodes Apr 18 '14 at 16:07
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    @MaulikV: Well, yes, we could say that, but generally we don't. – BobRodes Apr 18 '14 at 16:12

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