Thursday, 24 April 2014

South Korea’s stricken ferry: Lost at sea

Nguồn tin:

Classmates remember the dead

MINUTES after the Sewol, a South Korean ferry, began to list before sinking on April 16th, a schoolboy made its first distress call to the emergency services—before even the crew had radioed for help. “Save us!” he cried. “We’re on a ship and I think it’s sinking.” Divers found the boy’s body a week after the ship capsized off the South Korean coast. They have retrieved dozens of bodies, but the number of survivors, at 174, has not changed since the day the ship sank.

The number confirmed to have died is more than 150, with nearly as many still missing. Most are students from a high school in Ansan, near Seoul. They were on their way to the southern resort island of Jeju when the ferry suddenly turned to starboard, heeled over and began to sink. A transcript of the last ship-to-shore radio communication reveals muddle and indecision. It remains unclear whether an order to abandon ship was ever given. Most passengers were trapped in cabins, having repeatedly been told over the intercom to stay put. Only two of the ship’s 46 lifeboats were deployed. The captain abandoned the ship early. Authorities have now detained 11 of the 22 surviving crew members.

Investigators have ruled out a collision as the cause, instead focusing on a brief power cut before the ship turned. The captain was not on the bridge. A 26-year-old third mate was at the helm, having her first experience of navigating waters known for strong currents. Unsecured cargo may have shifted, causing the vessel to tilt, especially if it was overloaded and did not have enough ballast water onboard, as is now suspected.

The tragedy has kindled a spirit of unity and volunteerism in South Korea, as people have gone to help the victims’ families. It has also engendered soul-searching. Newspaper editorials have bemoaned a perceived gap between South Korea’s first-rate economy and third-rate safety measures. In fact, South Korea has a fairly good record for maritime safety.

President Park Geun-hye denounced the captain’s abandoning ship as “akin to murder”. She also promised to look into whether too cosy a relationship has developed between the shipping ministry and the Korea Shipping Association, the industry’s chief lobby group. Prosecutors have launched a probe into the finances of the family which owns and operates the ferry.

But Ms Park’s administration has also revealed a lack of co-ordination in its response. It took nearly an hour for its disaster unit to mobilise and three days for the first bodies to be retrieved. Angry relatives waiting near the wreckage gathered on April 20th to march in protest to the president’s office in Seoul, 400km to the north, but police blocked their path, one more frustration in a nearly unbearable week.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh



Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by VN Bloggers - Blogger Themes