Author Topic: South Korean ferry captain taken into custody; rescued school official found hanged  (Read 201 times)

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Offline flowers

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South Korean officials offered some information about what may have led to the sinking. They said the accident happened at a point where the ferry had to make a turn. Prosecutor Park Jae-eok said in a briefing that investigators were looking at whether the third mate ordered a turn whose angle was so sharp that it caused the ship to list.

Yonhap news agency reported that the third mate was a 26-year-old with a year of experience steering ships and five months on the ferry.

The ship made a sharp turn between 8:48 a.m. and 8:49 a.m. local time, but it's not known whether the turn was made voluntarily or because of some external factor, Nam Jae-heon, a director for public relations at the Maritime Ministry, said Friday.

Rescuers are struggling to find about 270 people still missing and feared dead. Strong currents and bad weather have made the search difficult. Searchers have now put markers on the surface of the water where the ferry went down. Part of the ship had remained above the surface until Friday, but now the entire vessel is submerged.

Divers have begun pumping air into the submerged ship 48 hours after it sank, coast guard officials said Friday. But it wasn't immediately clear if the air was for survivors or for a salvage operation.

At least 28 bodies have been recovered, with officials tallying 179 survivors. Officials say many of the missing victims are high school students. With the chances of survival becoming slimmer with each passing hour, this sinking is shaping up to be one of the country's worst disasters.

A transcript of a ship-to-shore exchange and interviews by The Associated Press showed the captain delayed the evacuation for half an hour after a South Korean transportation official told the ship it might have to evacuate.

The ship had left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the holiday island of Jeju in the south with 475 people, including 325 students. It capsized within hours of the crew making a distress call to the shore at 9 a.m., with only the dark blue keel jutting out over the surface. By late Friday, even that had disappeared, and rescuers floated two giant beige colored buoys to mark the area. Navy divers attached underwater lifting bags to the 6,852-ton ferry to prevent it from sinking further, the Defense Ministry said.

The recommendation by an unidentified official at the Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center came at 9 a.m., just five minutes after a distress call by the Sewol. In a recording of the conversation, the crewmember says: "Currently the body of the ship has listed to the left. The containers have listed as well."

The Jeju VTS officer responds: "OK. Any loss of human life or injuries?" The ship's answer is: "It's impossible to check right now. The body of the ship has tilted, and it's impossible to move."

The VTS officer then says "Yes, OK. Please wear life jackets and prepare as the people might have to abandon ship."

Offline Chieftain

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A sharp, sudden turn with reports of a loud bang heard and felt through out the hull tells me they must have grounded on some obstruction and tore open the whole side, flooding the engine room and heeling the ship over.  Any cargo shifting would exacerbate the heel but I do not believe any deck cargo containers could be heavy enough to make that much of a heel possible.

I suspect they will find extensive damage once a proper assessment of the hull can be made.  It is completely submerged now and I am not sure what position it finally came to rest in.  It could be laying over on the damaged side, and with water conditions merely murky on a good day it will be difficult to tell much until they can raise it.

And raise it they will.  South Korea has an enormous maritime industry with plenty of heavy lift available that is more than capable of raising a ship this size, intact.  It will be interesting to see what condition the hull is in.

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