South Korean ferry sinks leaving casualties


The Sewol South Korean Ferry sank on April 16. Image courtesy of Creative Commons Search.

Tracy Chu, Staff Writer

174 of the 476 passengers aboard a South Korean ferry escaped when the ship capsized on April 16 on the country’s southern coast.

The most recent search update stated that 64 passengers were confirmed dead and another 240 remain missing.

The Sewol South Korean Ferry sank on April 16. Image courtesy of Creative Commons Search.
The Sewol South Korean Ferry sank on April 16. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

The Sewol was making its twice-weekly overnight trip from the port of Incheon to the resort island of Jeju when it took a sharp turn and began sinking. According to the New York Times, 399 high school students and a group of teachers were aboard the vessel on a school trip.

Sophomore Kelly Liu said, “It’s hard to see that so many innocent lives lost because of a simple mistake. I will be keeping up as more information come up about why so many lives were lost.”

According to Time Magazine, the ferry sent out a distress signal just before 8:55 a.m. on April 16 saying, “Our ship is in danger,” before listing, or tilting, and sinking shortly after.

The captain of the ferry, Lee Joon-seok, stated to South Korean media that he worried that “the cold water and swift currents made evacuating the ferry too risky.” As a result, according to survivors, he told passengers to stay below deck rather than leave the ship immediately.

Joon-seok reportedly wasn’t on the bridge of the ship when it began to sink and left the vessel before the passengers. Along with most of his crew, Joon-seok has been sentenced to prison for abandoning ship.

Senior Iris Choi said, “It’s wrong that the captain abandoned his ship. He risked hundreds of lives for his own safety and should be punished.”

According to Bloomberg, South Korean president Park Geun-hye expressed her anger towards the crew, saying, “The actions of the captain and some crew members just cannot be understood with common sense. They are like murder and should not be tolerated.”

Investigators are also looking into possible defects that the 20-year-old ferry may have had that could have contributed to its sinking.

After the accident, divers tried to enter the sunken ferry to uncover more bodies. Those pulled from the water were taken to the nearby Jindo Island, where family members await.

Sophomore Marion Demailly said, “It really is such a tragedy that this kind of accident occurred. What the captain and crew did was unethical, and I think they deserve to be punished for their actions.”

More information is still being uncovered about the sinking of the Sewol and the conditions of its passengers.