South Korea ferry sinks...hundreds missing

this is not good…prayers for the missing but I am not filled with hope

292 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster

Associated Press
By HYUNG-JIN KIM and YOUKYUNG LEE 14 minutes ago

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea’s southern coast on Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea’s biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died.

One student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN after being rescued that he and other students jumped into the ocean wearing life jackets and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

“As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another,” Lim said, adding that some people were bleeding. Once he jumped, the ocean “was so cold. … I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live.”

Local television stations broadcast live pictures of the ship, Sewol, listing to its side and slowly sinking as passengers jumped out or were winched up by helicopters. At least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ship. Rescuers clambered over its sides, pulling out passengers wearing orange life jackets. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink slowly. Within a few hours only its blue-and-white bow stuck out of the water. Very soon, that too disappeared.

Some 160 coast guard and navy divers searched for survivors inside the ship’s wreckage a few kilometers (miles) from Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland. The area is about 470 kilometers (290 miles) from Seoul.

Those rescued — wet, stunned and many without shoes — were brought to nearby Jindo Island, where medical teams wrapped them in pink blankets and checked them for injuries before settling them down on the floor of a cavernous gymnasium hall.

The ship had set sail from Incheon, a city in South Korea’s northwest and the site of the country’s main international airport, on Tuesday night for an overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.

Three hours from its destination, the ferry sent a distress call at about 9 a.m. Wednesday after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration. Officials didn’t know what caused it to sink and said the focus was still on rescuing survivors.

Lee Gyeong-og, a vice minister for South Korea’s Public Administration and Security Ministry, said 30 crew members, 325 high school students, 15 school teachers and 89 non-student passengers were aboard the ship.

Kang Byung-kyu, a government minister, said two of the dead were a female crew member and a male high school student. He said a third body was also believed to be that of a student. A coast guard officer confirmed a fourth fatality but had no immediate details about it.

Kang said 164 people were rescued, of whom 55 were injured. Officials said 292 people were missing.

Yonhap news agency said the 146-meter (480-foot) -long ship, which travels twice a week between Incheon and Jeju, was built in Japan in 1994 and could carry a maximum of 921 people, 180 vehicles and 152 shipping containers.

The water temperature in the area was about 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit), cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 1½ hours of exposure, according to an emergency official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules. Officials said mud on the ocean floor made underwater search operations difficult. Lee, the vice minister, said the ocean is 37 meters (121 feet) deep in the area.

Passenger Kim Seong-mok told YTN that he was certain that many people were trapped inside the ferry as water quickly rushed in and the severe tilt of the vessel kept them from reaching the exits. Some people urged those who couldn’t get out to break windows.

Kim said that after having breakfast he felt the ferry tilt and then heard it crash into something. He said the ferry operator made an announcement asking that passengers wait and not move from their places. Kim said he didn’t hear any announcement telling passengers to escape.

The students — half of them boys and half girls— are from Danwon High School in Ansan city, which is near Seoul, and were on their way to Jeju island for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by Gyeonggi province, which governs the city. There are faster ways to get to Jeju, but some people take the ferry from Incheon because it is cheaper than flying. Many South Korean high schools organize trips for students in their first or second years, and Jeju is a popular destination. The students on the ferry were in their second year, which would make most of them 16 or 17.

At the high school, students were sent home and parents gathered for news about the ferry.

Park Ji-hee, a first-year student, said she saw about a dozen parents crying at the school entrance and many cars and taxis gathered at the gate as she left in the morning.

She said some students in her classroom began to cry as they saw the news on their handsets. Teachers tried to soothe them, saying that the students on the ferry would be fine.

The Maritime Ministry said the two previous deadliest ferry disasters were in 1970 when 323 people drowned and in 1993 when 292 people died.

I don’t get it…why doesn’t anyone want to discuss this tragedy?

[B]Hundreds Still Missing In Deadly South Korea Ferry Accident[/B]

By Reuters On April 17, 2014


Vessels involved in salvage operations are seen near the upturned South Korean Sewol ferry in the sea off Jindo April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Narae Kim

JINDO, South Korea, April 17 (Reuters) – Rescuers fought rising winds, strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds of people, mostly teenage schoolchildren, still missing after a South Korean ferry capsized more than 24 hours ago.

Coastguard, navy and some private divers were operating in waters at the site of the accident, about 20 km (12 miles) off the country’s southwestern coast. Earlier, rescue teams hammered on the hull of the upturned vessel, hoping for a response from anyone trapped inside, but did not hear anything, media reports said.

The vessel, carrying 475 passengers and crew, capsized on Wednesday during a journey from the port of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju. Nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, according to the South Korean government, leaving 287 unaccounted for and possibly still trapped in the vessel.

Grieving parents accused rescue teams of being slow to react and for lack of information, although government officials said that search efforts had continued through the night and was going ahead despite worsening conditions on Thursday.

“I am really angry with the government,” said Kwak Hyun-ok, whose daughter who was one of 340 children and teachers from one school on the vessel.

“There is no meaning to life without my daughter,” Kwak told Reuters.

The government said three cranes were being moved to the site of the accident and would arrive on Friday, and efforts were continuing to establish whether there were any survivors on the stricken vessel.

“We carried out underwater searches five times from midnight until early in the morning, but the strong currents and murky waters pose big obstacles,” Kang Byung-kyu, a minister for public security, told a news conference in the capital Seoul.

There is still no official explanation for the sinking, although the government has launched a formal inquiry. The ship, built in Japan 20 years ago, was following a well travelled route. Although the wider area has rock hazards and shallow waters, they were not in the immediate vicinity of its usual path.

State broadcaster YTN quoted investigation officials as saying the ship was off its usual course and had been hit by a veering wind which caused containers stacked on deck to shift.

One parent, Park Yung-suk, told Reuters at the port of Jindo where the rescue efforts are centred that she had seen the body of her teenage daughter’s teacher brought ashore earlier in the morning.

“If I could teach myself to dive, I would jump in the water and try to find my daughter,” she said.

DESPERATE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS

The relatively shallow waters of less than 50 meters (500 feet) were still highly dangerous for the 150 or so divers even under the best of weather conditions and time was running out quickly to find any survivors who may be trapped inside.

“The chances of finding people in there are not zero,” said David Jardine-Smith, secretary of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, adding however that conditions were extremely difficult.

“There is a lot of water current and silt in the water which means visibility is very poor and the divers are basically feeling their way around.”

The vessel was listing heavily to one side on Wednesday as passengers wearing life jackets scrambled into the sea and waiting rescue boats, according to television footage.

It sank in roughly two hours and witnesses and local media showed that just two life rafts from the ship successfully inflated and launched. Earlier reports said just one had inflated.

Witnesses told Korean media that the captain of the vessel, who is now being held by police, was one of the first to leave the stricken vessel.

Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd, based in Incheon, issued a brief statement via local media apologising for the accident but has made no further comment.

As frustration grew, some parents of missing school children hired their own boat on Wednesday night. They appeared to blame the government of President Park Geun-hye and rescue officials for not making a big enough effort.

“Since the government refused to take us to the scene, 11 parents chipped in 61,000 won ($58.79) each to hire a boat and took a reporter and a diver. But there was no rescue operation going on,” said one father who declined to give his name.

According to a coastguard official in Jindo, the waters where the ferry capsized have some of the strongest tides off South Korea’s coast, meaning divers were prevented from entering the mostly submerged ship for several hours.

A company called Web Solus is providing an underwater drone free of charge to examine the interior of the vessel where survivors could be located.

“Families and rescuers have been just looking at the surface of the sea. We have to move fast and at least see some of the vessel under the water,” Ko Se-jin, the operator told Reuters.

Among those on the ship were two Chinese citizens, according to Chinese media, one Russian and two Filipinos. The Philippines citizens were safe, according to Korean authorities, but the whereabouts of the others was not known.

The ferry has a capacity of about 900 people and an overall length of 146 metres (480 feet). Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.

What little hope now rests on whether the passengers inside would have been able to find themselves to air pockets, Jardine-Smith, the rescue experts said. “It is not impossible that people have survived, but, tragically, it’s very unlikely that many will have done.” ($1 = 1037.6500 Korean Won)

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Ju-Min Park, Choonsik Yoo, Meeyoung Cho, Kahyun Kang and James Pearson in SEOUL, Jungmin Jang in MOKPO, South Korea, and Jonathan Saul in LONDON; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

© 2014 Thomson Reuters.

Still no word on what caused the damn thing to sink? Very strange… Surely someone over there must have some idea. Ships don’t just capsize because they feel like going for a quick dip to cool off. Someone must have noticed something!

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;135760]Still no word on what caused the damn thing to sink? Very strange… Surely someone over there must have some idea. Ships don’t just capsize because they feel like going for a quick dip to cool off. Someone must have noticed something![/QUOTE]

well, the master and officers all appear to be survivors so there should be answers. The only thing I can think is the vessel was operated without adequate righting arm and some force caused it to flop then progressive flooding began in the cardeck. What was that force though?

[QUOTE=c.captain;135763]well, the master and officers all appear to be survivors so there should be answers. The only thing I can think is the vessel was operated without adequate righting arm and some force caused it to flop then progressive flooding began in the cardeck. What was that force though?[/QUOTE]

There’s land nearby in the background of all the photographs and some of the witnesses spoke of a certain “shuddering”. Could they have hit something? I don’t know those waters at all but the manner of her sinking seems consistent with tearing her bottom out (settling slowly by one side and then flipping over, remind you of anyone else?)

I’m surprised how much in attention there is to it in the media, considering they gave two weeks of 24/7 coverage to an airplane. You’d think they’d be all over 200+ “missing” passengers.

Just sad , I guess thats why no ones on the band wagon to discuss it. Seems this has been going on alot lately. One after another. No much on what caused it…

100 ferries sunk since 2002, ( I read today, crikey!) yawn, just another one then

I don’t really have anything to say at this point regarding the incident. Some passengers reported hearing rumbling before the ship capsized. That could mean anything from running around to the cargo moving. As for the rate of capsizing and sinking, the vessel was of old design and did not incorporate modern safety features of newer passenger ferries (many of which resulted from the sinking of similar ships in the past).

Anyway, it’s still a sad accident. I remember that morning in 1994 when they didn’t show cartoons in the TV…

I wonder why this has taken so long to happen?

Captain of Sunken Ferry Could Face Criminal Negligence Charges

By Reuters On April 17, 2014


Rescue ships take part in a rescue operation around the Sewol passenger ship, which sank in the sea off Jindo April 17, 2014, in this picture provided by the Korea Coast Guard and released by Yonhap.

JINDO, South Korea, April 17 (Reuters) – The captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized off the southwest coast was facing a criminal investigation on Thursday, an official said, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first people to jump to safety as the vessel began sinking.

The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday. The government has said nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, leaving about 290 people, most of them teenaged school children, missing and possibly trapped in the vessel.

The captain, identified as Lee Joon-seok, 69, is being questioned by the coastguard and is the subject of a criminal investigation, a coastguard official said.

Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew. Coastguard officials could not be reached for further details.

“It’s still an early stage and we’re questioning the circumstances,” said one coastguard official in the town of Mokpo, which is the centre of the investigation.

Television showed the captain sitting hunched over, wearing a hooded jacket, at the coastguard centre in Mokpo on Thursday.

“I apologise to the passengers and victims and families,” he said, declining to answer questions about what happened and why he abandoned the ship when he did.

Coastguard investigators have not given reporters access to the captain since then.

Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on leave, but had been at sea for 40 years and had travelled on the route before, ferry operator Chonghaejin said.

No survivor has been able to specify exactly when the captain left the vessel although several said he left early. At the time, other witnesses said, the crew was asking passengers to remain calm and stay where they were.

“MAD AS HELL”

One survivor told a South Korean television station: “I was one of the first ones to jump on a coastguard boat and there were several others, and I heard from one of the rescuers that the captain was on the boat before me.”

Other survivors also said the captain was one of the first to be rescued. Coastguard officials declined to comment when asked for confirmation.

The ferry operator declined to comment on the captain’s action, saying it was under investigation by the coastguard.

Families of the missing were outraged at the reports of the captain being one of the first to jump ship.

“It’s despicable and I’m mad as hell, but this is really not the time to talk blame, it’s the rescue of these kids that comes first,” said Lee Yong-ki, father of one of the missing children.

About half of the 30 crew members have been rescued.

It took the ferry about two hours to sink and most of the survivors were those who made it out on to the deck and then waited for help, holding on to the rails, or jumped into the sea to be picked up by rescue boats.

The crew was appealing to the passengers to remain where they were when it started sinking.

“It is outrageous that they didn’t tell people to get out,” said Choi Min-ji, one of the high school students who survived.

“They kept saying ‘stay put’ even when the water was coming in. I almost got trapped too and barely came out alive. If they did it (told people to get out) there would have been fewer casualties.”

Another survivor, Lee Tae-ju, 68, said some people believed the order to stay put sounded reasonable at the time.

“The ship was listing sharply, so I would have tried to tell people to stay put if I were them, just to keep calm. What can you do? In any case, the ship was listing so sharply it would have been almost impossible to get out.”

      • Updated - - -

here is a photo of the ship before the sinking

Obviously a tall high sided vessel that could easily be low on reserve righting arm as almost all ro/pax vessels are. Here is a photo of the ship before becoming submerged showing that is rolled away from the side the sternramp is located so that is not the cause of the flooding.

reports are that there are no rocks or other underwater obstructions in that location and it wasn’t a collision. Striking a submerged container or derelict should never have caused such flooding to occur…WHAT ON EARTH COULD HAVE?

here’s a graphic showing the timeline

[QUOTE=c.captain;135841]I wonder why this has taken so long to happen?[/QUOTE]

Maybe because until there is some indication that he did something wrong (besides leaving the boat a bit too early for his image) there may not be anything criminal involved. Criminalization of the mariner has become a convenient means to excuse any number of regulatory or other failures.

What I am surprised about is that even though every square inch of the hull below the waterline is visible to a diver, why there are no photos of hull damage that would provide evidence of a grounding or impact with a submerged object - or not. Does that mean there was no external component to the casualty or does it mean there is something no one at government level wants to talk about? The idea that there might be survivors remaining in the hull makes for a good diversion and a bit of theater for the grieving parents but isn’t doing anything to explain how this happened.

What does this say about the training the crew has. They told passengers to stay put… It took the vessel, what, 2 hours to sink? EVERYONE should have been off and floating in a life raft. But now there’s going to be over 200 dead. What a total shame.

[QUOTE=Steamer;135844]Maybe because until there is some indication that he did something wrong (besides leaving the boat a bit too early for his image) there may not be anything criminal involved. Criminalization of the mariner has become a convenient means to excuse any number of regulatory or other failures.[/QUOTE]

Anytime a passenger dies in a vessel casualty, the master should automatically be at least detained until is can be shown that his negligence is not a factor. If there is negligence involved then the master should face criminal charges. Knowing that sword is over your head will keep masters and officers on the straight and narrow when it comes to how they operate their vessels. This is why Shittino must hang for the COSTA CONCORDIA!

[QUOTE=c.captain;135852]Anytime a passenger dies in a vessel casualty, the master should automatically be at least detained until is can be shown that his negligence is not a factor. If there is negligence involved then the master should face criminal charges. Knowing that sword is over your head will keep masters and officers on the straight and narrow when it comes to how they operate their vessels. This is why Shittino must hang for the COSTA CONCORDIA![/QUOTE]

That condition exists in any event. In this case, it is not like the guy is going to run away and hide somewhere he can’t be extradited is it? Everyone knows who he is and where he lives, if evidence of wrongdoing is shown then he can be charged. In the case of the master or crew of a vessel in a foreign port then fair enough, keep them in country until the initial investigation either clears them or shows good reason to press charges but if “detaining” means arresting someone in a domestic casualty then that is going a bit too far.

As much as I wish the owners of ECO and everyone involved in the decision making components of the Aiviq Kulluk fiasco could be arrested and jailed for a few hours at least, it isn’t how mariners should be treated … there is a difference between simple incompetence and intentional criminal activity or criminal negligence.

looking more and more that the ship lacked sufficient righting arm

Did South Korea Ferry’s Turn Cause Deadly Sinking?

By Alastair Jamieson

The investigation into the South Korea ship disaster focused Friday on a sharp turn the vessel made, as one expert warned that a design weakness common to car ferries likely contributed to the sudden sinking.

The Sewol made the sharp turn in the 10 minutes prior to its first distress call, but it’s not known whether the maneuver was planned or caused by some external factor, said Nam Jae-heon, a spokesman for the Republic of Korea’s Maritime Ministry.

The turn could have sent unsecured cargo tumbling, causing the ship to list more than five degrees away from vertical — the critical point beyond which it is difficult to recover.

Water rushing into the vessel may then have sealed its fate, according to Carl Ross, a British marine architect and professor of engineering. He said the wide, open-plan vehicle decks of most car ferries could explain why the Sewol sank before hundreds could escape.

“If water gets into the vehicle deck, it can slosh from one side to the other, making the ship almost impossible to control,” he said. “You have to get off straight away or you’ve got no chance. The water will continue to come in and you’ll just get trapped.”

Ross said the sinking of the Sewol echoed a 1987 disaster in which the roll-on, roll-off car ferry Herald of Free Enterprise sank within minutes after taking on water as it set sail across the English Channel from Belgium to Britain.

“It happened so fast there wasn’t even time to raise the alarm,” said Ross of the 1987 sinking, in which 193 people died. “There was no time for an evacuation.”

Prosecutor Park Jae-eok said investigators were looking at whether the Sewol’s third mate ordered a turn that was so sharp that it caused the ship to list. The 26-year-old third mate, who had one year’s experience steering ships and five months on the doomed vessel, was at the helm at the time it began to list sharply.

Yang Jung-jin, a senior prosecutor, said the 69-year-old captain Lee Joon-seok, was not present on the bridge as required when the ship was passing through an area with many islands clustered closely together.

Moon Serng-bae, professor of maritime-information engineering at Korea Maritime and Ocean University in Busan, told the Wall Street Journal that navigating through the area where the ship sank isn’t straightforward and often requires vessels to travel in zigzag to avoid fishing boats or buoys.

Lee rushed to the helm and tried to re-balance the ship for up to 30 minutes before giving the order to evacuate, according to accounts from witnesses including one surviving crew member.

Prosecutors and police said Friday they have asked a court to issue arrest warrants for Lee and two other crew members. Officials were investigating witness claims that Lee was among the first to escape as the vessel sank under the surface, and whether the delay in evacuation led to the deaths of many on board.

Only 179 of the 475 passengers have been rescued since Wednesday’s sinking, with 28 confirmed dead. That leaves 268 missing, feared drowned, inside the submerged Sewol.

The ship had left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the holiday island of Jeju in the south.

The 6,835-ton ship had a capacity of 921 passengers, 180 vehicles and 152 regular cargo containers. Officials have not said how many containers or vehicles were on board, but local reports put the total cargo weight at between 600 and 1,200 tons.

A transcript of distress calls between the ferry and marine traffic officials suggests cargo on board may have shifted.

“What’s the current situation?” asked an unidentified official based in Jeju.

“Currently the body of the ship has listed to the left,” a Sewol crew member replied. “The containers have listed as well.”

Ross said tumbling cargo might have punctured the skin of the Sewol, sending water crashing in and making it impossible for the crew to order an evacuation.

“It’s a design failure on most car ferries — even modern ones,” he said. “The vehicle deck is open plan which means there’s nothing that can be done once enough water gets on board.”

A design modification — in which water would drain through a perforated deck into a zone divided by vertical bulkheads — would prevent water rushing across the width of the vessel, he said. However, the cost made the idea unpopular with operators.

He said reports that the captain told passengers to stay in place before eventually issuing evacuation orders likely contributed to the scale of the tragedy.

“These were mostly children who were listening to the instructions of adults,” Ross said. “They were just doing what they were told.”

It is quite plain to see that the ship is narrow, tall and has a shallow draft. Was she ballasted down at all? What about fuel load and cargo weight down low? Was the car deck mostly empty or only filled with autos? Something to me is screaming no stability here!

[QUOTE=c.captain;135881]looking more and more that the ship lacked sufficient righting arm![/QUOTE]

Which might be a mitigating factor in the captain at first telling people to remain where they were. The latest thought seems to be that the ship is a safer place to be than the water or a boat and with a load of passengers who probably didn’t even know they had a muster station much less where it was, perhaps the thought of preventing a stampede was not unreasonable.

There are a lot of questions to be answered before building the scaffold I think.

[QUOTE=KrustySalt;135845]What does this say about the training the crew has. They told passengers to stay put… It took the vessel, what, 2 hours to sink? EVERYONE should have been off and floating in a life raft. But now there’s going to be over 200 dead. What a total shame.[/QUOTE]

And [B]THAT[/B] is the criminal act. I saw video of passengers sitting around [B]inside[/B] the ship wearing life jackets and awaiting an evacuation order. With the ship now keel up, you will find those bodies glued to the deck where they had no chance to swim outside.

I understand delaying the order to abandon in frigid waters while there is a chance the ship might be saved, but at a minimum the passengers should have been standing-by at their abandon ship stations while the crew tried to save the ship.

[QUOTE=txwooley;135892]

I understand delaying the order to abandon in frigid waters while there is a chance the ship might be saved, but at a minimum the passengers should have been standing-by at their abandon ship stations while the crew tried to save the ship.[/QUOTE]

That may be where the negligence lies, if there were no drills or passenger briefings with emphasis on muster stations and emergency procedures and no officer was assigned to conduct the evacuation then there is a problem.

The turn could have sent unsecured cargo tumbling, causing the ship to list [B]more than five degrees away from vertical — the critical point beyond which it is difficult to recover[/B].

What is this bullshit?

If I had to guess, I’d say shifting cargo might have been the factor that finally capsized the ship. However, that’s another failure from the crew, not a design fault in the ship.

As for the vessel itself, it looks just like any other ro-ro ship. Not particularly narrow, not particularly shallow-drafted, not particularly high.

[QUOTE=Tups;135904]As for the vessel itself, it looks just like any other ro-ro ship. Not particularly narrow, not particularly shallow-drafted, not particularly high.[/QUOTE]

I’d say from the photos of the upturned hull, the vessel was not particularly deep drafted and appears to be somewhat shallow draft. Of course what really matters is the degree of righting arm the vessel had when it departed and if the vehicles were secured to prevent shifting in the car deck?