Family of SKorean Ferry Victim Files Suit Against Government

The parent of a South Korean ferry victim reportedly filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the government and the vessel’s owners, marking the first litigation move by any of the family members of the nearly 300 killed in the tragedy, according to AFP.

A court spokesman said the suit is seeking 30 million won ($30,000) in compensation from the government and Chonghaejin Marine Co., the company that owned and operated the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry, which sank on April 16. Although 172 were rescued on the day the ship sank, no survivors were found since. Some 292 bodies have been recovered, and 12 are still missing.

The suit was filed by the mother of an unidentified student from Danwon High School, which had 325 students aboard the ferry for an annual school field trip to Jeju Island. About 80 percent of the school’s sophomore class was killed in the accident.

The suit claims that the ferry’s safety wasn’t ensured because it was overloaded with cargo. Results of the initial investigation into the sinking also revealed that water ballast was reduced to dangerous levels to create space for more cargo, which could have contributed to the ferry failing to handle a sharp turn before it tilted and capsized.

“Chonghaejin Marine Co., owner of the Sewol ferry and employer of the crew, was neglectful in safety education and the state was very lax in the management of operation and licensing,” the suit said, as reported by AFP.

The plantiff said she could raise the claim to as much as 600 million won, as more information becomes available from the ongoing investigation.