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Live updates on Korean passenger ship sinking

Updated: 2014-04-17 16:04:58 (KST)
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Although we still don't know what caused the ship to capsize, the events immediately after it experienced trouble is raising all sorts of questions about whether this tragedy could have been averted, or least smaller in scale.

Let's now go over to our Park Ji-won at the news center for further details. Jiwon, what have we learned?


Yes Daniel, unfortunately human error is being blamed for the fact that so many people are believed to be trapped inside the listing ship.
We've heard reports that the passengers were told to remain where they were when the ship first encountered trouble, which runs counter to what safety experts advise people to do in such situations.
They should have headed for open air.
Also there are reports that the captain of the ferry, identified as 60-year-old Lee Jun-suk , was one of the first to jump into a lifeboat, reportedly the only available lifeboat at the time.
He abandoned the sinking ship and hundreds of passengers.

Experts say that is absolutely unacceptable, that the captain, who should've remained on board, giving directions, abandoned ship, along with other crew, who also bailed out early.
The captain spoke to investigators this morning and said he was truly sorry for the passengers and the victims' families.

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"I am very sorry, and deeply ashamed. I am at a loss for words."



But the captain didn't answer questions whether he changed the ship's course or, whether he used the only available lifeboat to rescue himself.
According to the nation's Ships Safety Act, the captain has a responsibility to remain on board in the event of trouble until all passengers are safely rescued.
Coast Guard officials are currently investigating Lee on charges of manslaughter.
It's also been pointed out that this ferry was carrying 46 lifeboats, which was mandated by the law.
However in the footage released of rescue operations, only one or two rescue boats were spotted, meaning the other 40-plus were not even deployed.
And some reports say the boats were tied to the ferry by a chain.
Experts think this is all because of the lack of preparedness and training, which all boils down to human error.


And Jiwon, as we continue to look for any signs of hope in this disaster, another has emerged today, with talk about a possible air pocket that survivors may be using to stay alive. Tell us about that.

Yes, experts point out that the vessel is not completely submerged, and that the tip of the ferry is still above the surface, which means there could be a giant air pocket there, an air pocket in which survivors could be using to breathe and stay alive.
Local media reports have been talking about a case out of Nigeria last year, where a fisherman survived for 60 hours underwater by using such an air pocket, until he was safely rescued.
So familes of survivors all hope and wish that such a miracle might unfold here in the nation as well.

We're all of course hoping for such a miracle at this point.
And Ji-won, it was revealed this morning that a series of text messages sent by survivors on the ferry arrived late last night. But those hopes have been tamped down a bit, haven't they?


Yes, Conn-young. At around midnight last night, some 15 hours after the ship started listing, the messages said they were alive, which did raise hopes that more survivors might be found.
Let's take a look.




"My child was in the ship and sent a text message to his friend at seven thirty-five in the morning, saying some 30 people were alive together, but they didn't give a location."


"Of course I believe they are alive. However the bad weather is hampering rescue efforts."



But, we must note, that there is a strong possibility these messages were sent earlier than that, and were just delivered at a later time.
The authorities are also looking into whether text messages were in fact sent by survivors inside the boat.

Thank you for your report Ji-won.
There are certainly a lot of questions to be answered.
Right now, we're simply hoping that search-and-rescue teams find survivors in what has turned into one of the worst disasters in Korea.


Reporter : jiwonpark@arirang.co.kr

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