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

People & Company News

Shell CEO: US Should Export Oil, Embrace Global Markets

The head of energy company Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday that U.S. policymakers should lift the crude oil export ban because allowing the shipments would make global energy system more stable.

SUNY Maritime Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Taking full advantage of one of the summer’s hottest days, twelve administrators and staff at the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College today took the Ice Bucket Challenge,

Fraunhofer Researchers Improve Underwater Images

Videos and images of the submarine world are important for the maritime industry. Researchers from Fraunhofer IGD will show how underwater images can be improved

Legal

Master Fined After Wind Farm Collision

The master of a wind farm support vessel has today been made to pay £3,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to breaches of maritime collision regulations.

Polar Code Afoot

The IMO is on the verge of adopting the Polar Code, something that is important and long overdue. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations,

Halliburton to Settle US Gulf Spill Claims for $1.1b

Halliburton Co said it reached a $1.1 billion settlement for a majority of claims against the company for its role in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Maritime Security

Challenging the Myths of Pirate Violence

“In the last five years, pirates have killed at least 411 fishermen and wounded at least 1,000 more, suggested Mujibur Rahman, Chairman of Cox’s Bazar District

EU Warship Provides Seychelles CG Training

EU Naval Force Warship 'FGS Berlin' has conducted local maritime capacity building in the Seychelles informs EUCAP Nestor. Three Local Maritime Capacity Building

Ulrich Ganz of Bernhard Schulte Joins Tundra

Tundra Group is delighted to announce the addition of the former Senior Company Security Officer (CSO) of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), Captain Ulrich Ganz,

Casualties

Master Fined After Wind Farm Collision

The master of a wind farm support vessel has today been made to pay £3,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to breaches of maritime collision regulations.

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,

USCG, National Park Service Rescue Sea Turtle

Members from the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service rescued a loggerhead sea turtle Sunday in Oregon Inlet. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina

Coast Guard

Ballast Water Leadership

Admiral Paul Zukunft, the new U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, could fill the BWT leadership void. Global efforts to combat the spread of invasive species in ballast

USCG Medevacs Mariner in Port Alexander, Alaska

The Coast Guard medevaced an 87-year-old female reportedly suffering from complications associated with a lower back injury aboard the fishing vessel Annie B in Port Alexander, Sunday evening.

USCG Responds to Plane Crash 51 mi SE Of Chincoteague Island, VA

The Coast Guard is responding to a plane crash Saturday approximately 51 miles southeast of Chincoteague Island.   Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 5th District

Maritime Safety

Tropical Storm Dolly Heads toward Mexico

NOAA's National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning in effect from Cabo Rojo to Barra El Mezquital, Mexico as Tropical Storm Dolly approaches the country’s eastern coast.

Master Fined After Wind Farm Collision

The master of a wind farm support vessel has today been made to pay £3,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to breaches of maritime collision regulations.

Challenging the Myths of Pirate Violence

“In the last five years, pirates have killed at least 411 fishermen and wounded at least 1,000 more, suggested Mujibur Rahman, Chairman of Cox’s Bazar District

Government Update

Shell CEO: US Should Export Oil, Embrace Global Markets

The head of energy company Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday that U.S. policymakers should lift the crude oil export ban because allowing the shipments would make global energy system more stable.

Polar Code Afoot

The IMO is on the verge of adopting the Polar Code, something that is important and long overdue. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations,

Algeria in Talks to Export Crude to Venezuela

Algeria is in talks to export crude oil to fellow OPEC member Venezuela, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report. Last week,

 
 
Maritime Contracts Navigation Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction 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: 0.3366 sec (3 req/sec)