Punishment for Coast Guard over Sewol Disaster
South Korea’s state audit agency has called for punishment for the head of the Coast Guard and 49 other officials from maritime rescue bodies over the handling of the Sewol ferry disaster in April.
The ferry sank off the island of Jindo on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing, mostly school children. The sinking resulted from a combination of factors including poor helmsmanship, cargo overloading and illegal modifications to the vessel to increase its cargo capacity. However, the poorly handled response by the Coast Guard was considered to have contributed to the high death toll.
Announcing its investigation into the sinking, the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea said it ordered the maritime ministry, which controls the ocean police, to take "proper" punitive action against Coast Guard chief Kim Suk-Kyoon, reports news agency Yonhap.
The agency also ordered punishment for Nam Sang-ho, the head of the National Emergency Management Agency, and the dismissal of managers of various other rescue agencies including the vessel traffic service (VTS) on Jindo Island and the Mokpo branch of the maritime police.
Through the audit agency’s actions, 50 rescue-related officials have been ordered to resign or face punishment.