South Korean Ferry Incident Update

Joseph Keefe
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
AFP/South Korea Coast Guard

Almost 100 ships, 18 helicopters involved in rescue; as many as 340 people from one school thought to be on board. Accident may be South Korea's biggest in 20 years.

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, despite frantic rescue efforts involving coastguard vessels, fishing boats and helicopters, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

The ferry was carrying 459 people, of whom 164 have been rescued, coastguard officials said.

It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of what appeared to be an impact prior to the accident.

"It was fine. Then the ship went 'boom' and there was a noise of cargo falling," said Cha Eun-ok, who said she was on the deck of the ferry taking photographs at the time.

"The on-board announcement told people to stay put ... people who stayed are trapped," she said in Jindo, the nearest town to the scene of the accident.

Survivors there huddled on the floor of a gymnasium, wrapped in blankets and receiving medical aid. One woman lay on a bed shaking uncontrollably. A man across the room wailed loudly as he spoke on his mobile phone.

Furious relatives of the missing threw water at journalists trying to speak to survivors and at a local politician who had arrived at the makeshift clinic.

Most of the passengers on board the ferry appeared to have been teenagers and their teachers from a high school in Seoul who were on a field trip to Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula.

CONFUSION OVER NUMBER MISSING


An official from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a Seoul suburb, had earlier said all of its 338 students and teachers had been rescued. But that could not be confirmed by the coastguard or other officials involved in the rescue.

The school official asked not to be identified.

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration earlier 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.

There was also confusion about the total number of passengers on board, as authorities revised the figure down from 477, saying some had been double counted. It added to growing frustration and anger among families of the passengers.

Witnesses said many people were likely to be trapped inside the vessel.

According to a coast guard 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.

"LOUD IMPACT"


The ferry began to list badly about 20 km (12 miles) off the southwest coast as it headed for Jeju.

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, said the area was free of reefs or rocks and 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.

Several survivors spoke of hearing a "loud impact" before the ship started listing and rolling on its side.

Within a couple of hours, the Sewol was lying on its port side. Soon after, it had completely turned over, with only the forward part of its white and blue hull showing above the water.

Coastguard vessels and fishing boats scrambled to the rescue with television footage showing rescuers pulling passengers in life vests out of the water as their boats bobbed beside the ferry's hull.

Other passengers were winched to safety by helicopters.

The ferry left from the port of Incheon, about 30 km (20 miles) west of Seoul, late on Tuesday.

It 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.

The area of the accident was clear of fog, unlike further north up the coast, which had been shrouded in heavy fog that led to the cancellation of many ferry services.

The coastguard said one person was found dead inside the sinking ferry. An official from the Mokpo Hankook hospital on the mainland said another person died soon after arriving at its emergency ward. That person was identified as one of the students on the school trip.

Four people were confirmed dead in total.

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

In 1993, the Seohae ferry sank, and 292 of the 362 passengers on board perished.


By Narae Kim

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

Passenger Vessels

Police Kill 2 Kenyans Suspected of Planning Ferry Attack

Kenyan police said on Friday they shot and killed two armed men suspected of planning an attack on a ferry in the port city of Mombasa after one of them tried to hurl a grenade at approaching police.

Cause of S.Korea Ferry Businessman's Death Remains Unknown

Yoo's body too badly decomposed to determine cause of death; mystery surrounding final days of de-factor owner of doomed ferry deepens. Yoo's son arrested in latest capture of family members.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Salvage

South Korean Teens: Left to Escape Sinking Ferry

Students testify no help came from crew; Coastguard rescuers were passive, only pulling passengers out. Crew in a state of panic, witness says. Six teenagers

Coast Guard Responds to Grounded Freighter in Lake St. Clair

The Coast Guard has responded Sunday to a 656-foot freighter that was hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair. Initial reports indicate

Bulk Grain Carrier Aground in Lake St. Claire

The Coast Guard informs it is responding to a 36,563 dwt 656-foot freighter that is hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair. Coast Guard

Liftboats

Valemon Topsides Installed

On Monday, July 28, the topsides were lifted into place on the steel jacket on the Valemon field in the North Sea. Produced by Samsung Heavy Industries this is

GDI Awards N-KOM US$110-M Contracts

Gulf Drilling International (GDI) Limited, a subsidiary of Gulf International Services (GIS), the largest oilfield service company in Qatar, has awarded two contracts

Global Ocean Trade: Latest Shipbuilding Orders

No tankship orders noted the past week by Clarkson Hellas in their latest S&P Weekly Bulletin, but no lack of orders in the dry bulk carrier market, all from Far East shipbuilders.

Casualties

Tripoli Airport Ablaze, Rockets Leave Libya in Chaos

Diplomats flee Libyan chaos; Politicians appeal for international intervention. Clashes in Tripoli, Benghazi kill around 160 over two weeks, while Libyan capital face fuel, power shortages.

South Korean Teens: Left to Escape Sinking Ferry

Students testify no help came from crew; Coastguard rescuers were passive, only pulling passengers out. Crew in a state of panic, witness says. Six teenagers

Coast Guard Responds to Grounded Freighter in Lake St. Clair

The Coast Guard has responded Sunday to a 656-foot freighter that was hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair. Initial reports indicate

Maritime Safety

Tripoli Airport Ablaze, Rockets Leave Libya in Chaos

Diplomats flee Libyan chaos; Politicians appeal for international intervention. Clashes in Tripoli, Benghazi kill around 160 over two weeks, while Libyan capital face fuel, power shortages.

South Korean Teens: Left to Escape Sinking Ferry

Students testify no help came from crew; Coastguard rescuers were passive, only pulling passengers out. Crew in a state of panic, witness says. Six teenagers

2 Rescued Near Humber Bridge by Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Humber Coastguard received a call just after 10am this morning reporting two people in the water after their powered canoe had capsized just west of the Humber Bridge.

Government Update

UN Throws the Book at North Korea Ship Operator

A U.N. Security Council committee on Monday blacklisted the operator of a North Korean ship, which was seized near the Panama Canal last year for smuggling Soviet-era arms,

Tripoli Airport Ablaze, Rockets Leave Libya in Chaos

Diplomats flee Libyan chaos; Politicians appeal for international intervention. Clashes in Tripoli, Benghazi kill around 160 over two weeks, while Libyan capital face fuel, power shortages.

South Korean Teens: Left to Escape Sinking Ferry

Students testify no help came from crew; Coastguard rescuers were passive, only pulling passengers out. Crew in a state of panic, witness says. Six teenagers

Ferries

Marseilles Fos Reports Mixed First Half

First-half container traffic at leading French port Marseilles Fos totalled 583,287 teu – up 7% on the first six months last year - marked by a 10% increase at the deepsea Fos terminals.

Police Kill 2 Kenyans Suspected of Planning Ferry Attack

Kenyan police said on Friday they shot and killed two armed men suspected of planning an attack on a ferry in the port city of Mombasa after one of them tried to hurl a grenade at approaching police.

Cause of S.Korea Ferry Businessman's Death Remains Unknown

Yoo's body too badly decomposed to determine cause of death; mystery surrounding final days of de-factor owner of doomed ferry deepens. Yoo's son arrested in latest capture of family members.

P&I Clubs

South Korean Teens: Left to Escape Sinking Ferry

Students testify no help came from crew; Coastguard rescuers were passive, only pulling passengers out. Crew in a state of panic, witness says. Six teenagers

Coast Guard Responds to Grounded Freighter in Lake St. Clair

The Coast Guard has responded Sunday to a 656-foot freighter that was hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair. Initial reports indicate

Cause of S.Korea Ferry Businessman's Death Remains Unknown

Yoo's body too badly decomposed to determine cause of death; mystery surrounding final days of de-factor owner of doomed ferry deepens. Yoo's son arrested in latest capture of family members.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar
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: 0.1374 sec (7 req/sec)