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

People & Company News

First Subsea Achieves API 17L1 Certification for Bend Stiffener Connectors

Connector technology developer First Subsea has received APL 17LI certification for its bend stiffener connectors from the American Petroleum Institute, the company announced today.

Gulf of Mexico Sees First LNG-powered OSV

A special Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) has been delivered to Shell for its deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico.   The vessel, Harvey Energy, is chartered

Bestobell Bags Hat Trick Order in China

Bestobell Marine, part of the President Engineering Group, has received its third order in the past 12 months from Hudong Zhonghua shipyard in China. The deal

Legal

Senate Committee Approves Vessel Discharge Reform Legislation

The effort to establish a uniform national framework for the regulation of vessel discharges took another step forward as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved S.

UK Will Force Fridman to sell N.Sea Assets

Britain is ready to force the sale of Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman's recently acquired North Sea energy assets unless it receives unspecified assurances within the next week,

General Dynamics Board Increases Dividend

The board of directors of General Dynamics today declared a regular quarterly dividend of 69 cents per share on the company's common stock, payable May 8, 2015,

Salvage

New Tool for Recovering Oil from Sunken Wrecks

A tool for removing oil trapped in submerged vessels has been developed in Norway by design specialists Miko Marine.   The launch of the Moskito aims to address

Vancouver Container Fire Closes Port

A large portion of Canada's biggest port was shut down on Wednesday after a chemical fire broke out amid numerous shipping containers piled up in a yard east of Vancouver's downtown core.

Vancouver Port Fire Leads To Evacuation

A chemical fire at a Vancouver container terminal led to a partial evacuation of Canada’s largest port for several hours Wednesday afternoon, as a cloud of white

Maritime Security

Australia Announces Patrol Boat Tender

Tender announced for Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project   The Australian Government announced a Request for Tender (RFT) to replace the Pacific Patrol Boats

Panama Accredits Maritime Security Firm

The Panama Maritime Authority has accredited ESC Global Security personnel to offer protection aboard Panamanian-registered vessels, in what is thought to mark

GOST to Unveil New Products at MSE Conference

GOST (Global Ocean Security Technologies),announced today that it will highlight its newest commercial maritime products at the 2015 Maritime Security East conference in Jacksonville,

Casualties

Vancouver Container Fire Closes Port

A large portion of Canada's biggest port was shut down on Wednesday after a chemical fire broke out amid numerous shipping containers piled up in a yard east of Vancouver's downtown core.

Bulker Loses Power, Runs Aground

The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring a vessel that lost propulsion and briefly grounded in the vicinity of Welch Island, Wednesday. The crew of the 738-foot

Vancouver Port Fire Leads To Evacuation

A chemical fire at a Vancouver container terminal led to a partial evacuation of Canada’s largest port for several hours Wednesday afternoon, as a cloud of white

Coast Guard

Bulker Loses Power, Runs Aground

The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring a vessel that lost propulsion and briefly grounded in the vicinity of Welch Island, Wednesday. The crew of the 738-foot

Coastal Interceptors for Kuwait Coast Guard

Following an extensive evaluation protocol, the Kuwaiti Ministry of the interior has placed an order with Tampa Yacht Manufacturing LLC based in Florida – U.

Cargo Vessel Grounded on Scottish Coast Towed Today

The towing of the DFDS cargo vessel Lysblink Seaways began today at 1:00pm local time, the UK's Maritime Coast Guard Agency announced.   The vessel ran aground

Maritime Safety

Senate Committee Approves Vessel Discharge Reform Legislation

The effort to establish a uniform national framework for the regulation of vessel discharges took another step forward as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved S.

Vancouver Port Operations Resume Atfer Container Fire

Port Metro Vancouver said on Thursday that operations had resumed at most port facilities shut down by a shipping container fire the day before, but that its Centerm

Panama Accredits Maritime Security Firm

The Panama Maritime Authority has accredited ESC Global Security personnel to offer protection aboard Panamanian-registered vessels, in what is thought to mark

Government Update

Senate Committee Approves Vessel Discharge Reform Legislation

The effort to establish a uniform national framework for the regulation of vessel discharges took another step forward as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved S.

Egypt: Suez Canal Zone to Make Up 30-35% of Economy

Egypt expects a planned economic zone near the Suez Canal to eventually make up about a third of Egypt's economy, the country's investment minister said on Thursday.

Australia Announces Patrol Boat Tender

Tender announced for Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project   The Australian Government announced a Request for Tender (RFT) to replace the Pacific Patrol Boats

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage 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: 0.1876 sec (5 req/sec)