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Korean ferry disaster: day 22 Updated: 2014-05-07 20:41:53 KST

Korean ferry disaster: day 22
Three weeks have passed since the Sewol-ho ferry capsized off the southwestern coast of Korea and over 30 passengers still remain missing.
For more, we go to Kim Ji-yeon here with us.
While the search for the missing continues, the ongoing investigation into the sinking has uncovered more unsavory details about the operator, this time regarding safety violations.

That's right.
The Chonghaejin Marine Company was found to have the highest number of accidents among ferry operators in Korea, for the past five years.
The Korea Coast Guard says the ferry operator had six accidents from 2009 to 2013, accounting for 10-percent of all passenger ship accidents.
And it seems the captain of the Sewol-ho ferry Lee Joon-suk was also accident prone.
Three years ago, he was first mate on a ship that abruptly stopped in the West Sea and experienced a five-hour blackout due to a defect in the electrical power system in the engine room.
And this could've resulted in something very similar to the Sewol disaster, given that the ferry was carrying close to 650 people.
During the incident, passengers were told to stay put without an emergency escape just like those in the Sewol-ho ferry.
Do note, that nine out of 10 victims of the Sewol-ho ferry were wearing life jackets, waiting for rescuers in vain.
There was no penalty to then-first mate Lee but instead, he was promoted as captain of the Sewol-ho ferry.

So authorities are proceeding with their investigations, presuming that the ferry operator had knowledge of the potential problems with the vessel?

That may be the case.
Prosecutors found that the ferry operator tried to sell the Sewol-ho ferry on-line in March at a price of around 16 million U.S. dollars.
At least one buyer from the Philippines showed interest.
During the sale, the ferry operator did not reveal to its broker that it may be unstable and will not be able to recover its balance, since it was renovated to fit in more cargo and passengers.
Prosecutors are trying to prove the ferry operator knew of the faults beforehand and wanted to sell it anyways.

Ji-yeon, I'm sure many people are wondering how could the ferry operator's negligence go undetected? Who is regulating?

Prosecutors believe there was some wrongdoing in relation to the safety inspection of ferry operators and that some were bribed in exchange for lax inspections.
An official of the Korea Shipping Association, which oversees the shipping industry, was arrested today over suspicions of taking bribes from ferry operators like the Chonghaejin Marine Company in exchange for overlooking insurance fraud.
The nonprofit organization is in charge of inspecting and certifying vessels on behalf of the government.

Thank you Jiyeon.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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