South Korea Ferry Victims Only Steps from Safety

Posted by Joseph Keefe
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Photo courtesy of the South Korean Coast Guard

Many of the 250 children who drowned when a South Korean ferry sank in April would have survived if the crew had issued a simple order to evacuate to emergency decks just outside their cabins, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Fifteen surviving crew of the ferry Sewol, including the ship's captain, are on trial on charges ranging from negligence to homicide after they told passengers to stay put in their cabins before abandoning the sharply listing vessel.

The court in Gwangju, the city closest to the scene of the April 16 disaster, was shown video for the first time of the crew abandoning ship, prompting an outpouring of anger and grief.

Family members rose in rage when one by one the crew were seen escaping the vessel. Many broke down in sobs and shouted at the defendants who watched the video as if mesmerized.

A woman tried to throw a shoe but was restrained by a court guard. Another rose to ask yet again what has been asked repeatedly during the trial - whether the crew would have done the same if it had been their children obeying orders and waiting in their cabins.

"You may have sneaked out and may live a little longer, but you will all die one day," a sign held by a father said.

"Do not end up forever lost in the nether world after being torn to pieces by the children who wait for you having died with their eyes wide open. Try your best to tell the truth about what happened."

The prosecution used a replica model of the Sewol to argue that many of the students were in cabins located near emergency decks on the third and fourth levels.

"Had there been swift rescue measures, the young students would have been able to leave the vessel through the emergency exits," prosecutor Kim Hyun-woo told the court, adding the decks were just outside the cabin doors. "Then there would been minimum or no casualties."

Of the 476 passengers and crew on board, 339 were children and teachers from the same school on the outskirts of Seoul. Only 172 people were rescued and the remainder, including children and their teachers, are all presumed to have drowned.

The court also viewed video footage taken by one of the children's mobile phone that showed them in turn joking, pleading for help, and leaving messages for their family saying that they loved them.

"Captain, what are you doing? ... Hey, are we sinking?" one student was heard saying in his cabin.

Lawyers for the defence have argued that it was up to the coastguard to rescue the passengers because its rescuers would have had better equipment and training.

The coastguard has been publicly criticised for its slow and ineffective response. President Park Geun-hye has said it will be disbanded and the rescue role transferred to an agency yet to be created.

Authorities are still searching for Yoo Byung-un, 73, head of the family that owned the operator of the ferry, on charges of embezzlement, seen as a key factor compromising safety management.

Rescuers have called off the search for 11 people still missing with the approach of a powerful typhoon churning towards Japan.

Temporary shelters that house family members of the missing passengers at a port on the island of Jindo were also shut.


By Ju-min Park

Maritime Today


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

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

HCI Capital Renamed Ernst Russ AG

A vote was passed at the ordinary shareholders’ meeting of HCI Capital AG yesterday to change the company’s name to Ernst Russ AG. The Executive Board and Supervisory

CMA CGM to use Kingston As Transshipment Hub

French shipping giant CMA CGM plans to use Kingston Container Terminal,  Jamaica as a strategic Caribbean transshipment hub for an enlarged Panama Canal. The Port connects to US East Coast,

Conrad Shipyard Forms LNG Business Unit

Conrad Shipyard has formed a new business unit focused on LNG projects.   Conrad, builder of North America’s first LNG bunker barge scheduled for 2017 delivery,

Legal

Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia. Australia’s proposal to establish

Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for Indian Ports Unveiled

Ministry of Shipping has formulated a new Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for all Major Ports which will come into effect from 20th August, 2016. The objective

Statoil’s 50 years to be Recorded

Statoil has decided to launch a large project to write the story about the company for its 50th anniversary in 2022. The University of Oslo has been chosen the

Maritime Security

US Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Montgomery

The U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) during a ceremony on June 23 at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.   Marking the official

ST Marine Delivers 4th Patrol Vessel to Oman

Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), the marine arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), has held the Interim Acceptance ceremony

China Dismisses South China Sea Support Doubts

China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday brushed off doubts about how many countries have offered support for its position in a case brought by the Philippines over Chinese claims in the South China Sea,

Coast Guard

Ailing Mariner Medevaced off Alaska

An ailing crewmember aboard the fishing vessel Seafreeze Alaska was medevaced approximately 195 miles north of Cold Bay, Alaska, Thursday.   A Coast Guard Air

More than 2,000 Migrants Rescued at Sea -Italy Coastguard

Ship crews pulled more than 2,000 migrants from overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean on Friday, Italy's coastguard said, as people smugglers stepped up operations

Seven Indonesian Sailors Kidnapped in Philippines

Seven Indonesian sailors have been taken hostage in the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippines, Indonesia's foreign minister said on Friday, the latest in a string

Maritime Safety

Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia. Australia’s proposal to establish

Ailing Mariner Medevaced off Alaska

An ailing crewmember aboard the fishing vessel Seafreeze Alaska was medevaced approximately 195 miles north of Cold Bay, Alaska, Thursday.   A Coast Guard Air

More than 2,000 Migrants Rescued at Sea -Italy Coastguard

Ship crews pulled more than 2,000 migrants from overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean on Friday, Italy's coastguard said, as people smugglers stepped up operations

Government Update

Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia. Australia’s proposal to establish

Austal Delivers LCS 8 to US Navy

Austal Limited (Austal) (ASX:ASB) delivered the future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) to the U.S. Navy, during a ceremony held aboard the ship at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, USA on 23 June.

Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for Indian Ports Unveiled

Ministry of Shipping has formulated a new Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for all Major Ports which will come into effect from 20th August, 2016. The objective

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Port Authority Salvage 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: 0.1031 sec (10 req/sec)