Search resumes for missing in S. Korean ferry disaster

Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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 Japanin 1994.

According to public shipping databases, the registered owner of the ship isChonghaejin 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. (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 August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Passenger Vessels

Long Beach Public Invited to Celebrate QM's 80th

The iconic trans-Atlantic liner Queen Mary turns 80 on September 26 and the public is invited to join a ship-wide celebration. The Queen Mary will open her gangways and ballrooms,

MM&P Hopes to Pad Ranks with Brown Water Mariners

New York Harbor Tug Boat Captains and Crews, Staten Island Ferry Workers, Circle Line and Other Tourist Boat Crews Vote on Joining New Union Uniting with the International Organization of Masters,

Seaspovill Orders Second Damen Fast Ferry

South Korean operator Seaspovill signed its second contract for a Fast Ferry with the Netherlands-based shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group. The Fast Ferry 4212 -

Casualties

USCG in Search of Missing Man in Lake Michigan

The Coast Guard is searching for a man who went missing on Lake Michigan, Tuesday. Missing is 48-year-old Joseph Kiehm from Milwaukee. Kiehm was last seen aboard his 26-foot white sailboat,

S. Korea Navy Chief Quizzed About Salvage Ship Absence

The state audit agency has interrogated the chief of the Navy over a faulty Navy salvage ship that failed to participate in the national rescue operation for the

Arctic Wreck Found after 169 Years

After more than 169 years, Canadian researchers discovered one of the two ships from the doomed Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin, cracking one of the largest mysteries in sea exploration.

News

Vessel Discharge Legislation Awaits Congressional Nod

The American Waterways Operators, a 350-member trade association representing the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry, hailed the House introduction of

Seagull Maritime Response on Safety, Security

Key areas of concern for seafarer safety and security in both marine and offshore operations have triggered the release of six new and one supplementary titles

Antwerp Port Seeks Inputs on Setting-up LNG bunkering

By the beginning of 2016 the port of Antwerp will have an LNG bunkering and filling station for barges. The procedure for construction of the station is currently under way.

Maritime Safety

Seagull Maritime Response on Safety, Security

Key areas of concern for seafarer safety and security in both marine and offshore operations have triggered the release of six new and one supplementary titles

Exxon: U.S. to Allow Wind Down Ops in Russian Arctic

U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil said on Friday the U.S. Treasury Department granted it a license to wind down operations on a drilling well in the Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic.

Russia: Exxon Still Drilling in its Arctic

ExxonMobil is still drilling in the Russian Arctic, a Russian minister said on Friday, in move that if confirmed will anger Washington after the U.S. administration

Ferries

MM&P Hopes to Pad Ranks with Brown Water Mariners

New York Harbor Tug Boat Captains and Crews, Staten Island Ferry Workers, Circle Line and Other Tourist Boat Crews Vote on Joining New Union Uniting with the International Organization of Masters,

Seaspovill Orders Second Damen Fast Ferry

South Korean operator Seaspovill signed its second contract for a Fast Ferry with the Netherlands-based shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group. The Fast Ferry 4212 -

Green Passenger Ferries from Faaborg Vaerft

The first full-electrical passenger ferry in composite is delivered to Ballerina AB in Stockholm, Sweden. Faaborg Vaerft A/S has delivered the first full-electrical passenger vessel,

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators 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: 0.2614 sec (4 req/sec)