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

Environmental

USCG Flush Ice down River Systems to Facilitate Shipping

The Coast Guard cutter fleet is flushing ice through the Great Lakes river systems to prevent ice jams and facilitate commercial shipping as the shipping season

Chile Desert Rains Sign of Climate Change

The heavy rainfall that battered Chile's usually arid north this week happened because of climate change, a senior meteorologist said, as the region gradually

Mexico Unveils National Strategy ahead of Paris Climate Talks

Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan the

Salvage

Smoke: Cruise Ship Evacuates Passengers

A number of passengers and crew members were evacuated after smoke was spotted billowing from the front section of Carnival Liberty cruise ship docked in the Dutch Caribbean nation of St Maarten.

Salvage, Wreck Removal Beset with Chronic Problems

The basic nature of maritime casualties, salvage and wreck removal has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Ships and offshore constructions have become more technologically elaborate,

EALs & Oil Spill Remediation

EALs & Oil Spill Remediation: The Effects of EALs on Oil Spill and Discharge Reporting and Remediation In the wake of increased environmental scrutiny and potentially expanding liability issues,

News

Gulf Bridge Express Service to End

The Gulf Bridge Express Service will shortly be terminated with the last roundtrip voyage being MV Saint Nikolaos voyage 00008S, ETA New Orleans on April 22, 2015.

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Scandlines Ferry Back in Service by End June

The damaged Scandlines ferry M/V Prinsesse Benedikte is being repaired at the Polish shipyard Remontowa and is expected to be ready before the end of June 2015.

Coast Guard

USNS Spearhead Delivers Materials to Ghana Charities

The U.S. Navy’s joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) delivered wheelchairs and medical supplies to Ghanaian non-governmental organizations March 26, 2015.

USCG Flush Ice down River Systems to Facilitate Shipping

The Coast Guard cutter fleet is flushing ice through the Great Lakes river systems to prevent ice jams and facilitate commercial shipping as the shipping season

Mediterranean Rescue Operations Strain Shipping

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday describing how the increasing number of seaborne migrants making the journey from Africa to Europe has not only

Eye on the Navy

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts.   Vietnam and China have long contested

India May Add Japanese Soryu-Class Submarines to its Fleet

India is reportedly considering a project to incorporate six Japanese Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines into its fleet, says The Japan Times.   The Defense

Ferries

Scandlines Ferry Back in Service by End June

The damaged Scandlines ferry M/V Prinsesse Benedikte is being repaired at the Polish shipyard Remontowa and is expected to be ready before the end of June 2015.

Washington State Ferry Tacoma Returns to Service

Washington State Ferry M/V Tacoma will return to work on the Seattle/Bainbridge Island route starting March 28 after suffering electrical damage last summer.   The

Greek Ferry Still Stuck

The Greek ferry that ran aground just outside of port on the Aegean Island of Kassos Wednesday night is still stuck. The 227 passengers and 55 crew aboard the

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics 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: 0.2900 sec (3 req/sec)