A Ferry Disaster Leaves At Least 4 Dead and 291 Missing
On 8:55 a.m. (KST), a ferry, Sewol, carrying more than 450 passengers and crew began to sink off the coast of Jindo Island?in South Jeolla Province. So far, there are at least four people dead and hundreds missing. The information for this has been constantly updated as rescue crew is in search for the missing people. The ferry was on its way to?Jejudo Island from Incheon. Sewol started to drift in an unexpected direction from 8:52 a.m. according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
As of 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 164 people were rescued and 291 are unaccounted for. The passengers included 324 students and 14 faculty members from Danwon High School. The high school was on route to Jejudo Island for a school trip. President Park Geun-hye has ordered authorities to continue to concentrate on rescue efforts.
“Efforts should be made to prevent even one casualty, and a thorough search must be carried out to ensure nobody is left behind,” Park was quoted as saying by Lee Gyeong-og, second vice minister of security and public administration. The president has visited the central response center to urge officials to pick up the pace of the rescue operations before sunset.
Currently, the Navy has sent out vessels along with two helicopters for the search. Navy and Coast Guard commandos were set to begin searching inside the vessel from 5 p.m. The Air Force and the Army also dispatched aircraft to the scene. Divers have begun to search in shallower areas and then they will be put into full swing of the underwater search on early Thursday. U.S. Navy ship Bonhomme Richard has joined the rescue efforts. The fleet has stated that they will provide support as necessary.
Earlier today, the Security Ministry claimed that 368 people were rescued and later revealed to have been a miscalculation. The ferry operator is not even sure how many people were on board. The ferry company initially announced 477 people were on board while the government put the figure at 459. The ferry company later changed the figure to 462. Amidst of figuring out the correct number of people on board, the rescue operations continued in the most difficult conditions.
On a safety check that was conducted in February, no irregularities were found. Survivors have reported that the power inside the ship was cut off as it was sinking. With this information, it is speculated that many may have been trapped inside. “A search was conducted within a 5-kilometer radius, but no recoveries were made. Considering the water temperature, depth and the time lapsed, anyone trapped inside is unlikely to have survived,” a rescue worker told a local news network. The depth of the sea where the ship sank is about 45 meters, with a reported water temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius. The cause of this accident has not yet been determined, but the passengers speculate that the ferry hit a reef when the vessel jolted with a loud noise. Another speculation is the thick fog, but the meteorological office said the area was clear with visibility of about 20 kilometers. According to the ferry’s company official, the vessel did not deviate significantly from the course.
Then what really happened? We will find out as the numbers keeps coming in.