Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

‘We just want their bodies!’ Desperate parents of S. Korea ferry victims attack top official

Published time: April 25, 2014 13:09
Relatives of victims of the "Sewol" ferry express their frustrations as they surround deputy head of the national coastguard Choi Sang-Hwan (C) after forcibly removing him from an office at Jindo harbour on April 24, 2014. (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

Relatives of victims of the "Sewol" ferry express their frustrations as they surround deputy head of the national coastguard Choi Sang-Hwan (C) after forcibly removing him from an office at Jindo harbour on April 24, 2014. (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

Furious parents of South Korean ferry disaster victims have attacked a senior official, accusing him of lying about search and rescue efforts on the sunken vessel. The death toll in the tragedy has reached 181, with 174 people rescued.

At least 20 angry relatives assaulted the deputy head of the Korean Coastguard, Choi Sang-hwan in his temporary office at the port of Jindo Island, the center of the rescue operations, reported AFP.

The parents rushed into Choi’s office, making their way through at least 10 officers. Once inside, they started punching Choi in the face and body.

“It's not like we are asking to have them back alive. We just want their bodies," one mother screamed at him.

The desperate parents then pulled Choi out of the office, dragging him to a nearby tent.

Some of the relatives ripped his shirt while several mothers repeatedly slapped the official.

"You'd be doing your best only when your own children were underwater," said another.

The parents also demanded to see Choi’s supervisor Kim Suk-kyun, the coastguard chief.

Angry family members of missing passengers onboard the capsized Sewol ferry drag Choi Sang-hwan, deputy head of the South Korean coast guard (2nd R), and a government official (C) out from their office to demand for faster and more efficient rescue work at a port where many family members are waiting for news from the search and rescue team in Jindo April 24, 2014. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

When Kim arrived, angry relatives demanded that officials gather officers by radio, telling them to mobilize more divers and speed up efforts in recovering the missing bodies.

"You guys said hundreds of divers were working there, but we only saw a few there today," another desperate mother screamed at Choi.

The parents also wanted to watch the rescue efforts live and demanded that closed-circuit TVs be set up for them.

Among their demands was to put a diving bell on site in order to retrieve the bodies faster. Later on Thursday, the officials finally agreed to consider bringing the bell into the operation.

According to the mission spokesman KO Myung-seok, the device's use will be determined by rescuers on-site.

On Thursday, 81 divers were looking for bodies, but the rescue operation was hampered as tidal currents became faster than expected.

Meanwhile, the government-wide disaster response headquarters confirmed that at least 88 divers will be involved in the search and rescue mission. They will search passenger cabins on the third and fourth floors of the five-story vessel on Friday. However, only 10 divers can trace guideline ropes into the sunken ship at a time because five ropes are being snaked into the ship.

A woman reacts after the body of a relative was recovered and identified from the capsized South Korean ferry "Sewol" at an area where family members of victims of the disaster are gathered at Jindo harbour (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

A 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry carrying 476 passengers and crew capsized on an overnight trip from the northwestern port of Incheon to the southern resort island of Jeju. Among the passengers were at least 325 students from Danwon High School in Ansan city, south of the country’s capital, Seoul.

The confirmed death toll from ferry disaster rose sharply to 181, while the number of rescued has been unchanged at 174 since the day of the incident, report Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, four of nine crew members, arrested earlier on charges of violation of maritime law, fronted Korean TV cameras and apologized for their actions in leaving the sinking ship with passengers still aboard, reported Reuters. Three main suspects - the captain, a third mate and helmsman also apologized, though without admitting guilt to the charges, a source familiar with the legal proceedings told Reuters.

The South Korean government is facing a harsh backlash from angry relatives of ferry victims.

On Wednesday, parents confronted South Korean officials demanding the autopsies, saying it may show their children were alive inside the ship and only died because of a slow emergency response, according to Kim Hyong-ki, the spokesman for a representative committee set up by relatives.

Amateur footage released on Sunday showed the moment when the ship began to capsize. Passengers were told to stay put on the ship, even when it started to list. Some critics have argued that if an order to evacuate had been issued earlier, more people could have been saved.

Comments (9)

 

gendrikov 26.04.2014 18:29

There are 15 US military bases in South Korea !
And They Had all the resources and personel to
Save many of the pasengers ! The Korean People
Need to Protest This Disrespect of your needs and Hospitality !
I ask Where were U.S. Navy seals while this was sinking ?
Too many questions ! Demand the U.S. Bases to Leave
your Country Now !

 

Ivan888 26.04.2014 17:59

Did school principal commit suicide, or was he silenced?

W hy order passengers to stay put and drown while captain was leaving ship?

Was this another human sacrifice by some unknown cabal?
During Korean war, South Korean government committed many mass slaughters. Maybe this ferry disaster is another one.

 

Ivan888 26.04.2014 17:54

first distress call to authorities came from a student on board, not a member of the crew!

only one of the ferry's 46 life boats was working properly, with the rest locked up with chains.

Par k Joon-hyuk was in a room with about 50 other students when the boat began listing. As the water rose, crew members told the students to stay put, he said.

" ;Nobody was helping us," he said.

View all comments (9)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us