Hundreds Unaccounted for in S.Korea Ferry Disaster

MarineLink.com
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

For the parents of the many teenagers still missing after the Sewol ferry capsized off the coast of South Korea, the wait for news - good or bad - is almost unbearable.

Of 462 passengers on board the ship when it set sail from the port of Incheon late on Tuesday, nearly 340 are believed to have been from the same high school near the capital Seoul, on their way to Jeju island for a field trip.

The prospect of hundreds of pupils in their late teens perishing in a single accident only adds to the sense of tragedy after Wednesday's disaster.

Considerable uncertainty surrounds the number of those missing and rescued, after South Korean authorities drastically revised their estimates midway through the day.

Rescue operations are also ongoing through the night, under the light of flares, although divers have suspended attempts to find survivors inside the ship, now almost completely submerged, until daylight.

But a sense of foreboding is unavoidable among those involved in searching the waters off the southwest coast, and relatives of the missing waver between hope, despair and anger at what appears to be authorities' botched handling of the incident.

"My tears have dried up," said a mother in Jindo, a town near the site of the disaster where many families have gathered. "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.

"No Rescue Operation"
The father of one missing child could not bear to wait. He said he and 10 other parents paid 61,000 won ($59) each to hire a boat to take them to the scene, along with a local reporter and a diver.

"There was no rescue operation going on," he said on his return to Jindo. "We clearly saw there is none. What they were doing at the time was stopping the oil spill. I'm extremely angry. The media says the rescue operation is still going on. It's all a lie. It makes me so furious."

Anger was also aimed at reporters in Jindo trying to interview families of those missing or rescued, and at the school, which at one point mistakenly announced that all 338 students and teachers on the field trip had been rescued.

Adding to the misery, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration initially reported that 368 people had been rescued and that about 100 were missing. 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 latest official estimates say that of 462 people on board the Sewol, 174 have been rescued and four people are confirmed dead, including at least one student from the school. That leaves 284 people unaccounted for.

For many parents, the agonising wait began at Danwon High School in Ansan, a Seoul suburb, where they gathered in the morning after news of the ferry disaster broke.

Park Seong-ho, father of a 17-year-old boy on board the ferry, but who had not been in contact, said, "I have to go now. It's as if the world is falling apart. I really want to go now to see my son."

Jeong Kyung-mi, mother of another 17-year-old from the school, was more fortunate. She received a text message from her son saying he had been rescued with friends and was safe.

"When I heard the news, it felt like my heart had stopped beating," she said.

Parents fought their way on to coaches provided to take them to Jindo, where some were reunited with their children.

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.

(By Narae Kim; Additional reporting by Jinwoo Lee, Jungmin Jang and Ju-min Park; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

    Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

    Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

    Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard

  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard
  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard
  • Photo courtesy South Korea Coast Guard
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

Rosneft says Exxon Still Continues to Work With it in Arctic

Russia's biggest oil producer Rosneft said on Saturday that Exxon Mobil was still continuing exploration drilling at their joint project in the Arctic Kara Sea.

ICC Conference Focuses on Platform to Settle Disputes

The 5th ICC International Commercial Mediation Conference has brought together leading mediators, arbitrators, corporate managers and in-house counsel from around

Ban Welcomes Leonardo DiCaprio as UN Messenger of Peace

As the eyes of the world turn to New York City, where thousands of people are expected to gather today for a massive march in advance of a United Nations climate summit,

Maritime Safety

Rotterdam Integrates Safety Research with LNG Training Facility

The Dutch company Falck Risc is becoming the number one expert on LNG safety in Europe. Together with the Unified Fire Department, Falck Risc will draw up guidelines

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.

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 Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators
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: 0.1633 sec (6 req/sec)