Final Preparations Made to Raise Sewol

File photo: Sewol families wait for news of those missing at the time of the sinking.

By MarEx 2017-03-20 11:46:40

On Sunday, South Korea tested a lift system to raise the Sewol ferry that sank in 2014, killing more than 300 people, most of them school children.

The vessel lies at a depth of 44 meters (144 feet), and a Chinese company Shanghai Salvage has fitted 33 beams beneath the hull, which will be raised by 66 hydraulic jacks. The vessel lift will be attempted on a neap tide, probably April 4 or 5, if the weather is suitable.

Salvors are attempting to raise the ferry in the hope of finding the last nine bodies. 

The accident has been largely blamed on the ship’s illegal redesign and cargo overload, but officials have also pointed to negligence by crew members along with slow rescue efforts.

Many of those that died were obeying crew instructions to remain in their cabins even though crew members were disembarking.

Sewol’s captain Lee Jun-seok was sentenced to life in prison, the court saying that he “knowingly and totally abandoned his role when he left the ship fully aware that passengers would drown.” He was among the first off the vessel, while loudspeaker announcements repeatedly instructed passengers to stay in their cabins. Defense lawyers for Lee in turn accused the coast guard of failing in their duty to rescue the passengers.

14 lower ranking crewmembers have been charged and found guilty of lesser offenses and have received between two and 12 year jail sentences. Dozens of officials and company officers have also been prosecuted in relation to the sinking.