Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


S Korea president apologises for ferry response

29 April 2014, 10:35

Jindo - South Korea's president apologised on Tuesday for the government's inept initial response to a deadly ferry sinking as divers fought strong currents in their search for more than 100 passengers still missing nearly two weeks after the accident.

The government also raised the death toll for what has become a point of national mourning and shame to 193. Most of the dead and missing are high school students.

Divers are largely using their hands to feel for remaining bodies as they make their way through a maze of dark cabins, stairwells, storage rooms, lounges and restaurants in the submerged ferry, which flipped upside down as it sank on 16 April.

But they must fight strong currents swirling around the ferry and, once inside, overturned furniture, mattresses and other debris floating in the murky, sediment-heavy waters.

President Park Geun-hye's apology, and the earlier resignation of her prime minister, comes amid rising indignation over claims by the victims' relatives that the government did not do enough to rescue or protect their loved ones.

Angry families

Park said at a cabinet meeting at the presidential Blue House that South Korea has "lost many precious lives because of the accident, and I am sorry to the public and am heavy-hearted". She says the government couldn't prevent the accident and "the initial response and remedy were insufficient".

Park had earlier visited a memorial set up in Ansan, the city near Seoul where the high school students are from, to pay her respects to victims. Wearing a black dress and white gloves, she laid flowers at an altar and bowed her head.

According to local media, some angry family members of victims shouted at her and demanded an apology. She listened to them for 10 minutes before leaving.

Investigators, meanwhile, are expanding their probe into both the cause of the ship's sinking and the initial response by emergency workers.

Officials have searched the two service centres that deal with vessel traffic and that communicated with a crew member on the ferry during the sinking, seized documents and recordings from a coast guard office in Mokpo, and have continued questioning the captain, the third mate and the helmsman who were on the bridge when the ship began listing.

Only 174 people survived the sinking, including 22 of the 29 crew members.

Excessive cargo

The government is making initial plans to eventually salvage the ferry but has indicated it won't do so until search efforts end.

All 15 crew members responsible for the ship's navigation have been arrested, but they haven't been formally charged yet because investigations are still going on.

The arrested crew members are accused of negligence and of failing to help passengers in need. Captain Lee Joon-seok initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and took half an hour to issue an evacuation order, by which time the ship was tilting too severely for many people to get out.

Lee told reporters after his arrest that he withheld the evacuation order because rescuers had yet to arrive and he feared for passengers' safety in the cold, swift water.

The ferry was carrying an estimated 3 608 tons of cargo, according to an executive of the company that loaded it.

That far exceeds what the captain claimed in paperwork - 150 cars and 657 tons of other cargo, according to the coast guard - and is more than three times what an inspector who examined the vessel during a redesign last year said it could safely carry.

Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin said that the cause of the sinking could be due to excessive veering, improper stowage of cargo, modifications made to the ship and tidal influence.

He said investigators would determine the cause by consulting with experts and using simulations.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...