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 October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Environmental Groups: IMO Polar Code Too Weak

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) today adopted the Polar Code aimed at regulating shipping in Polar Regions. Several environmental groups have criticized

Bouchard Vessels Honored by SCA

Forty-three Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. vessels have been honored by The Chamber of Shipping America (CSA) with Certificates of Environmental Achievement.

Casualties

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

Update: Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

An explosion occurred aboard a production platform Thursday at West Delta 105, operated by Fieldwood Energy, resulting in one fatality and three injured. The Bureau

BSEE Responds to Explosion in Gulf of Mexico

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is responding to an explosion at West Delta 105 in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans.

News

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

Gazprom Transgaz Ufa Organizes Arts Festival

Over 200 healthy children and children with disabilities from Bashkortostan as well as the Volga Region participated in the Breaking the Barriers second interregional children’s arts festival,

Time-out for Kwanza Drilling

Statoil has decided to cancel the Stena Carron rig contract after fulfilling the work commitments in the Statoil-operated blocks 38 and 39 in the Kwanza basin offshore Angola.

Coast Guard

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

Update: Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

An explosion occurred aboard a production platform Thursday at West Delta 105, operated by Fieldwood Energy, resulting in one fatality and three injured. The Bureau

Seaspan Shipyard's Prompt Response to Canadian Coast Guard

Seaspan Shipyard’s long-standing relationship with the Canadian Coast Guard was proudly showcased in recent days, with simultaneous repair and maintenance work

Eye on the Navy

USS Oscar Austin Deploys to 6th fleet

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) departed Naval Station Norfolk Nov. 21 for a deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Australia: Maritime SAR in Asia Pacific a Priority

Defense force personnel from Australia are in China for Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2014 which begins today. The exercise aims to enhance coordination and cooperation between Australia,

Ferries

Gazprom Transgaz Ufa Organizes Arts Festival

Over 200 healthy children and children with disabilities from Bashkortostan as well as the Volga Region participated in the Breaking the Barriers second interregional children’s arts festival,

Energy Storage System Ordered for LNG Battery Hybrid Ferry

Norwegian hybrid to be the first LNG battery ferry to operate on commercial routes Corvus Energy, Siemens AS and Fjord1 have announced the award of the contract for the Fannefjord LNG hybrid ferry.

New Agency to Replace S. Korea Coast Guard after Ferry Disaster

South Korea launches a massive new government agency this week to handle emergency rescue and safety management seven months after a ferry disaster killed 304 people

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar 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: 0.3153 sec (3 req/sec)