Greenwich Academy Press

The Student News Site of Greenwich Academy

Greenwich Academy Press

Greenwich Academy Press

260 Dead After Sewol Sinks

260 Dead After Sewol Sinks

On April 16, the passenger and cargo ferry, “Sewol,” sank approximately twenty miles off the southwestern coast of South Korea on its way to the island of Jeju. Though the government has not yet confirmed why the boat sank, many believe that the 3,608 tons of cargo, more than three times the amount boat could safely carry, is to blame for the accident.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 8.33.04 PM

The majority of the 476 individuals aboard the vessel were eleventh grade students traveling with their teachers for a field trip. The students attended Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea, located near Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Of these 476, only 147 were rescued on the day of the accident. As of May 5, 260 of the 476 were found dead. This number is expected to rise since forty-two more passengers and crew are still not accounted for.

Residents of Ansan are left trying to figure out how to mourn the loss of 250 teenagers, nearly three quarters of the entire eleventh grade class.

Thus far, the official government investigation of the disaster has led to the arrest of nineteen people, among them the captain of the ship, three helmsmen, two first mates, a second mate, and a chief engineer.

These individuals have been accused of neglecting the safety procedures and abandoning passengers to ensure their own safety. The fact that 22 of the 29 crew members survived indicates exactly how many were involved in acts that the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye called “unforgiveable” and “murderous.”

Coastguard, Navy and privately hired divers were employed to search around the site of the shipwreck for survivors. However, the water conditions, high winds, and stormy weather initially impeded the search. According to Kang Byung-kyu, Minister for Security and Public Administration, “We carried out underwater searches five times from midnight until early in the morning, but the strong currents and murky waters pose big obstacles.”

When divers finally gained access to the wreckage, they found bodies trapped below the deck. These bodies would not have been there had the captain ordered them to evacuate the vessel.

Large groups of people were camped out in tents in the port city of Incheon, the closest place to the sight of the wreck, anxiously awaiting additional information. After days of waiting, many fear that they will never see the bodies of their loved ones. These individuals were also angry about how slowly they gained information about loved ones and believe that the government did not fully utilize every resource available to rescue the maximum number of victims.

On April 21, nearly 100 people gathered in a march to protest the way in which the government responded to the sinking of “Sewol.” Those participating walked for six hours before police forced them to disband. Many could be heard shouting, “the government is killer.”

On April 27, South Korean Prime Minister, Chung Hong-won, announced that he was resigning because of the ferry accident. The president accepted his resignation but did not say when he would be allowed to leave office. Although the Prime Minister took full responsibility for the way in which the government handled the disaster, a crowd of citizens and relatives of those who died aboard the “Sewol” shouted and threw things at Chung when he visited the site of the sinking.

As of May 4, 1.1 million people have gathered at the 131 memorials set up around South Korea to mourn the loss of the those aboard the ship who were not rescued.


More to Discover
Activate Search
260 Dead After Sewol Sinks