UPDATE: South Korean Ferry Disaster

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It is not looking good as hope fades for survivors. While the rescuers need to proceed with all resources available and haste, the theory of survivors trapped in air pockets may be wishful thinking.

JINDO, South Korea — Emergency workers at the scene of a capsized ferry were finding bodies but not survivors Friday morning in an increasingly grim operation marred by confusion and complicated by strong currents.

A series of aborted and failed rescue attempts compounded the agony among family members awaiting news on a nearby island, as optimism dwindled in what is shaping up as one of South Korea’s worst peacetime disasters.

Since Thursday night, 16 bodies have been found floating in the water around the hull of the overturned vessel. And no survivors have been pulled from the ferry since Wednesday, despite more than 500 professional divers and scores of coast guard boats working in the area.

Earlier in the search operation, some relatives clung to hope as text messages purportedly from those still alive and trapped in the ferry popped up on South Korean online forums. But South Korean police now say those messages appear to be hoaxes. Police say they have checked cellphone records of missing passengers and determined that none have made calls or sent texts after the ferry sank, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Two days after the ferry capsized in the Yellow Sea off the Korean Peninsula’s southwestern coast, nearly 300 passengers remain unaccounted for. Fears are growing that the death toll, now at 25, could skyrocket.

Read more at the [Washington Post]

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

South Korean Ferry – Sewol

South Korea Minister of Security and Public Administration Kang Byung-kyu said floating cranes will attempt to lift the almost completely submerged boat out of the water.

“A total of 555 divers were mobilized for search operations and three cranes departed [for the accident area] last night. One crane will arrive tomorrow morning and two will arrive at night,” said Byung-kyu.
This image made from video from the South Korean Coast Guard shows a passenger of a ferry sinking off South Korea’s southern coast being hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter off the southern coast near Jindo, April 16, 2014.
This image made from video from the South Korean Coast Guard shows a passenger of a ferry sinking off South Korea’s southern coast being hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter off the southern coast near Jindo, April 16, 2014.
The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol departed from the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, Tuesday night for the island of Jeju, some 100 kilometers off the southwest coast. The vessel was also carrying about 150 cars and trucks.

Authorities have not established the cause of the sinking. But some survivors reported hearing a loud impact noise before the vessel rolled onto its side and began sinking.

Many passengers said they were initially told to stay in their seats and not try to escape, a development that outraged many families of those missing.

Read more at [VOA]

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

Navy and Coast Guard rescuers found 16 more bodies of passengers trapped in the Sewol on Thursday night and Friday morning, bringing the total number of confirmed dead to 25.

Of the 16 victims, only 10 have been identified. They are eight high-school students, one crew-member and a 60-year-old passenger. All of the bodies were sent to Hankuk Hospital in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

As the bodies arrived at the hospital, families of the victims burst into tears with some of the parents screaming and collapsing.

Read more at the [Korean Herald]

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

A sudden shift of cargo in the ferry Sewol is emerging as the possible cause of it sinking, while several other theories have also arisen about why the huge boat capsized and sank at such a breathtaking pace.

A team of experts from the Coast Guard and National Forensic Service among others has begun an investigation, but the final cause is expected to only be determined after the ship is salvaged.

The Coast Guard has been questioning several crew-members, including Captain Lee Joon-seok about whether the ship capsized while it was changing course.

It is dismissing the idea that the ferry hit a submerged rock as the cause of the accident.

The ship carried some 180 vehicle and 1,157 tons of cargo, including large containers. If the ship made a sudden turn, the cargo might have shifted causing it to list sharply.

The accident site, some 20 kilometers north of Byeongpoong Island off Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province, is known to be a point where many vessels turn onto a new course.

The Coast Guard suspects that the Sewol made a sharp turn here while changing course.

Read more at the [Korean Times]

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

South Korean Ferry Disaster. Sinking Sewol near Jindo, Korea.

 Sunken ferry: Hopes fade for survivors as hoax texts emerge

This morning, three huge cranes are due to attempt to lift the sunken ferry Sewol from below the sea after divers battled in vain to penetrate its hull and free almost 290 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Little hope remains for finding those trapped alive, as strong winds and heavy currents stymied rescue efforts.

Working through the night, divers placed unmanned robots into the water, directing them to the ship in order to enter doorways or windows which humans could not.

Reports then emerged of text messages purporting to have been sent by those trapped inside the ferry to their loved ones. However, confusion remained over the authenticity of the missives.

“This might be the last chance to say I love you,” one student, named as Shin Young-jin, was reported to have texted his mother.

But South Korea’s National Police Agency concluded that none of the trapped passengers had sent text messages and that those said to have done so were not missing. “We will hunt down the people who wrote these messages,” a police official said, vowing to “sternly punish them for hurting the families and causing confusion in the search efforts”.

Read more at the [New Zealand Herald]

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