Search Resumes in S. Korean Ferry Disaster

MarineLink.com
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
USS Bonhomme Richard LHD 6 has entered search operations (U.S. Navy photo)

Poor weather conditions may hamper effort; Mystery surrounds capsize of ship; Nearly 280 people still missing, many of them teenagers

South Korean coastguards and navy divers resumed their search on Thursday for nearly 280 people still missing after a ferry capsized in what could be the country's worst maritime disaster in over 20 years.

They will also be seeking answers to many unanswered questions surrounding Wednesday's accident, notably what caused the Sewol vessel to list and then flip over entirely, leaving only a small section of its hull above water.

Rescue efforts on Thursday could be be hampered by difficult weather conditions, however, amid forecasts of rain, strong winds and fog.

Of 462 passengers on board the ferry when it set sail from the port of Incheon late on Tuesday, 179 have been rescued and six people are known to have died.

Nearly 340 of the passengers were teenagers and teachers from the same school near the capital Seoul on a field trip to Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula.

Parents of missing children faced an agonising wait for news as they gathered in Jindo, a town close to where ferry capsized.

"My tears have dried up," said one mother, who did not give her name. "I am holding on to hope. I hope the government does everything to bring these kids back to their mothers."

At the dockside in Jindo, women sat and stared out at the black, calm sea before them, quietly sobbing.

Clues Sought
It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry had listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm waters off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.

A member of the crew of a local government ship involved in the rescue, who said he had spoken to members of the sunken ferry's crew, described the area as free of reefs or rocks and said the cause was likely to be some sort of malfunction on the vessel.

There were reports of the ferry having veered off its course, but coordinates of the site of the accident provided by port authorities indicated it was not far off the regular shipping lane.

The ferry sent a distress signal early on Wednesday, the coastguard said, triggering a rescue operation that involved almost 100 coastguard and navy vessels and fishing boats, as well as 18 helicopters.

A U.S. navy ship was at the scene to help, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said, adding it was ready to offer more assistance.

According to a coastguard official in Jindo, the waters where the ferry capsized have some of the strongest tides of any off South Korea's coast, meaning divers were prevented from entering the mostly submerged ship for several hours.

Adding to the sense of confusion on Wednesday, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration initially reported that 368 people had been rescued and that about 100 were missing.

But it later described those figures as a miscalculation, turning what had at first appeared to be a largely successful rescue operation into potentially a major disaster.

The ship has a capacity of about 900 people, an overall length of 146 metres (480 feet) and weighs 6,586 gross tonnes. Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.

According to public shipping databases, the registered owner of the ship is Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd, based in Incheon. Reuters was unable to reach the company by phone.

Earlier, company officials offered an apology over the accident but declined to comment further.

The databases showed that Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd became the owner of the vessel in October, 2012.

(By Narae Kim; Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Ju-Min Park, Choonsik Yoo, Meeyoung Cho and James Pearson in SEOUL and Jonathan Saul in LONDON; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Maritime Reporter January 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navy

Greek Government to Halt Piraeus Port Sale

The new Greek government led by the left-wing Syriza party will halt the sale of a majority stake in the port of Piraeus, Greece's biggest, begun by the previous government,

Australian Tall Ship Rounds Cape Horn

The Royal Australian Navy operated Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour rounded Cape Horn on Australia Day, 36 days into a 12-month circumnavigation of the world.

Oil Tankers are Front Line of Libya's Struggles

Crew members killed in tanker attack this month; West fears worsening violence could lead to civil war. Oil shippers face higher costs and the possible loss of insurance cover on Libyan voyages,

Environmental

Ecochlor BWTS Chosen for 8 New Bulkers

Times Navigation, Inc. has selected Ecochlor, Inc. to provide ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) for installation on a fleet of eight new CROWN63 (63,500 DWT)

Signal Ship Repair Achieves OSHA Milestone

Signal International announced that on December 31, 2014, the Signal Ship Repair Operations located in Mobile, Alabama achieved one full year and worked 387,926 manhours,

International Sulphur Campaign Launched

An international information campaign on the new, stricter sulphur requirements and their enforcement will be launched in February and, at the same time, cooperation

News

US House Passes Bill to Pressure Regulators on LNG Exports

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to speed permits for exports of natural gas, a measure that even if passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama,

DSME Building 5 Icebreaking LNGCs for Yamal

Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is building five large Arctic Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers (LNGCs), for which it has LNG ordered

New Iranian Ambassador Visits IMO

Mohammad Hassan Habibollahzedeh, the new Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to IMO, visited IMO Headquarters January 28.   There,

Coast Guard

Santa Lucia Back Underway in Delaware Bay

The motor vessel Santa Lucia, which was aground in Delaware Bay, got back underway under its own power at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday. The Santa Lucia is

Baby Medevaced from Cruiseship in Gulf of Mexico

A Coast Guard helicopter crew medevaced an 8-month-old baby girl from the cruise ship Carnival Triumph early Monday morning, 140 miles southeast of Galveston.

Training Coastguards is Key to Tackling Piracy

Training and mentoring of coastguards in Africa, Middle East and South East Asia is essential if coastal nations are to have effective control over their Territorial Waters and Economic Zones,

Eye on the Navy

Australian Tall Ship Rounds Cape Horn

The Royal Australian Navy operated Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour rounded Cape Horn on Australia Day, 36 days into a 12-month circumnavigation of the world.

China Warns India, US on Regional Conflict

There is no need for India and the United States to have concerns on navigation and over flight over the disputed South China Sea, says China. "The situation in

A&P Contracted for Navy Tanker Maintenance

A&P Group, the UK’s largest ship repair firm has bagged a £15 million military contract to complete the fit-out of the Royal Navy support group’s new fleet of tankers.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Repair Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2325 sec (4 req/sec)