Sunken Korea Ferry Relatives Give DNA Swabs To Help Identify Dead

Posted by Greg Trauthwein
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Some relatives of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as the rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.
The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized on Wednesday on a journey from the port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju. Thirty-two people are known to have died.
The 69-year-old captain, Lee Joon-seok, was arrested in the early hours of Saturday on charges of negligence along with two other crew members, including the third mate who was steering at the time of the capsize.
Prosecutors later said the mate was steering the Sewol through the waters where it listed and capsized - for the first time in her career.
Asked why the children had been ordered to stay put in their cabins instead of abandoning ship, Lee, apparently overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, told reporters he feared they would have been swept out to sea in the strong, cold current.
Early reports said that the ferry turned sharply and listed, perhaps due to a shift in the cargo it was carrying and crew members said the captain, who was not initially on the bridge, had tried to right the ship but failed.
Some 500 relatives of the 270 people listed as missing watched a murky underwater video shot after divers reported they had seen three bodies through the windows.
The official number of those missing was revised up from an earlier estimate of 269.
Packed in a gymnasium in the port city of Jindo day and night since Wednesday, tempers frayed and fist fights broke out after the video was shown. The video, viewed by relatives and journalists, did not appear to show any corpses.
"Please lift the ship, so we can get the bodies out," a woman who identified herself as the mother of a child called Kang Hyuck said, using a microphone.
Relatives have criticised what they say is the slow response of the government and contradictory information given out by authorities in the early stages of the rescue mission.
President Park Geun-hye was jeered by some when she visited on Thursday. "Park Geun-hye should come here again," Kang Hyuck's mother said.
Three cranes were moved close to the sunken ship on Saturday but were not deployed. Strong tides and rough weather again impeded efforts to get inside.
Coastguard spokesman Kim Jae-in said the cranes would be deployed when the divers say it is safe.
"Lifting the ship does not mean they will remove it completely from the sea. They can lift it two to three metres off the seabed," he said.
Coastguard officials said that divers would make another attempt to enter the ship in the evening.
"The chances of finding anyone alive now are almost zero," said Bruce Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the International Maritime Rescue Foundation.
"There will still be a search operation on the water, a surface search, but it would be more of a recovery exercise now. They'll be looking for bodies."
The capsize occurred in calm weather on a well-travelled 400 km (300 mile) sea route from Incheon to Jeju some 25 km (15 miles) from land.
Lee, the ship's captain, was described by officials from Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd, the owner of the vessel, as a "veteran".
"I had ordered (passengers) to leave the ferry, but (later) I said to them to stay because there was no rescue ship," he told South Korean television as he was led away by police.
Police also raided Chonghaejin offices in Incheon and Yang Joong-jin, a prosecutor in the city of Mokpo, said ten people were being questioned over the loading and stowing of the Sewol's cargo.
Yonhap news agency said 180 vehicles were onboard the ferry along with 1,157 tons of freight. At least some of the freight was in containers stacked on the foredeck.
Relatives and friends of the schoolchildren have also gathered at the Danwon High School in the commuter town of Ansan.
The vice-principal of the school, Kang Min-gyu, 52, was one of those rescued as the children followed orders and stayed aboard. He hanged himself outside the gym in Jindo, police said.
His body was discovered on Friday and police released part of a two-page suicide note.
"Burn my body and scatter my ashes at the site of the sunken ferry," he wrote. "Perhaps I can become a teacher for the missing students in my next life."
(By Ju-min Park and Jungmin Jang, Additional reporting by Chookyung Kim; Writing by James Pearson and David Chance; Editing by Nick Macfie and Raissa Kasolowsky, Reuters)

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

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


Plans to Create Rio Doce Fund

Vale and BHP Billiton announced today plans to work together, with Samarco, to establish a voluntary, non-profit fund to support the rescue and recuperation of the Rio Doce river system,

Panama-Registered Ship Sinks off Vigan City

A Panamanian cargo vessel MV Fortune Life sank off the coast 130 nautical off Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), uthorities said.   The

Polish Cargo Ship SZAFIR Attacked off Nigeria

Pirates operating off the coast of Nigeria have taken hostage five Polish sailors, including the captain and officers, from the Polish general cargo ship Szafir.


Marintec China Indicates Growth

Marintec China exhibition has grown by 14% since its last edition to cover 80,000 sq m with over 2,000 exhibiting companies  from 34 countries  defying the talk

Shipping emissions 17% of global CO2

Shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated, according to a new scientific study conducted by European Parliament

Bunker Fuel Market Poised 460 million tons by 2020

Transparency Market Research launched its latest study on the global bunker fuel market, in terms of revenue and volume. The report predicts that the global

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | 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: 0.1452 sec (7 req/sec)