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Ferry disaster leaves three dead, 292 missing

Apr 16, 2014                                                                                       Edited by Ms. Ye-ji Lee 


A ferry carrying more than 450 passengers and crew sank off the coast of Jindo Island in South Jeolla Province on Wednesday, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds unaccounted for. 

The passengers included 324 students and 14 faculty members from Danwon High School who were traveling to Jejudo Island on a school trip. 

The government immediately launched a central response center, with President Park Geun-hye ordering authorities to concentrate on rescue efforts. 

“Efforts should be made to prevent even one casualty, and a thorough search (of the ship) must be carried out to ensure nobody is left behind,” Park was quoted as saying by Lee Gyeong-og, second vice minister of security and public administration. 

The president also visited the central response center and urged the officials to pick up the pace of the rescue operations as sunset was approaching.

The Minister of Security and Public Administration and the chief of the National Emergency Management Agency coordinated the rescue efforts from the scene. 

The Navy sent out vessels along with two helicopters. In addition, U.S. Navy ship Bonhomme Richard joined the rescue efforts. The U.S. 7th Fleet also said that it would provide support as necessary. 

Although the Security Ministry initially claimed that 368 people had been rescued as of 1:10 p.m., the figure was later revealed to have been a miscalculation. 

“As the rescue operation is underway, the exact numbers cannot be compiled yet. The figure of 368 (rescued people) was a mistake,” Second Vice Minister Lee said in a special briefing at about 3:30 p.m.

In addition, the government and Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the sunken ferry, were unable to determine the number of people on board. 

The ferry company initially announced that 477 people were on board while the government put the figure at 459. The ferry company later changed the figure to 462. As the government and concerned organizations struggled to pin down the figures, rescue operations continued in difficult conditions. 

Rescue workers arrived at the scene at 9:30 a.m., about half an hour after the emergency call from the Sewol, but the search for survivors was hampered by strong currents. 

The passengers were initially told to stay put, but began jumping into the sea following an onboard announcement that the ship was about to sink completely as rescue efforts were underway. 

Chonghaejin Marine apologized for the accident and vowed to focus on rescue efforts.

A company official said the vessel did not deviate significantly from course, and that the company was making preparations to recover the ferry. 

The captain of the Sewol is a veteran with eight years of experience operating the Incheon-Jejudo Island route. The 69-year-old man surnamed Lee joined Chonghaejin Marine in November 2006. He is the most experienced of the three captains operating the company’s large ferries, according to a Chonghaejin employee. 

Lee was sent on the day of the accident to operate the Sewol to fill in for the main captain, who had gone on vacation.

No irregularities were found on the Sewol during a safety check conducted in February.

Word Check

● casualty [|kӕƷuəlti] : [NOUN]  a person who is injured or killed in a war or in an accident.

● coordinate [koʊ|ɔ:rdɪneɪt]  : [VERB] to organize or integrate (diverse elements) in a harmonious operation

● deviate [|di:vieɪt] : [VERB] To deviate from something means to start doing something different or not planned, especially in a way that causes problems for others.


1. What is the main idea of the article?

2. In this situation, what do you think who’s fault? President? captain? etc.

3. Our country always “To lock the stable door after the horse is stolen.” How can we solve this problem?