South Korea Formally Announces Plans to Salvage Sewol Ferry

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

South Korea announced on Wednesday that it would attempt to salvage the Sewol ferry that sank last year, killing 304 people, most of them high school students.

Last April, the overloaded ferry capsized off the southern coast of Jindo island, and it now lies 144 feet below sea level. Described to be “severely weakened” by the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, the vessel weighs more than 6,000 ton, considering the weight of water, mud and cargo.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said on Wednesday that it had submitted a computer simulation that showed that the ferry could be raised by using offshore cranes to slowly lift the vessel off the seafloor and move it onto a floating dock, according to the New York Times. It estimated that the operation would take 12 to 18 months and cost up to 150 billion won (US $138 million).

Salvage operations are expected to commence in September, according to the public safety ministry. The ministry hopes to recover the bodies of nine missing victims from the sunken vessel while minimizing risk to the divers.

Since the Sewol ferry disaster, bereaved families have urged the South Korean government to salvage the ship and even rejected compensation.

On the one-year anniversary of the disaster, tens and thousands of protesters rallied at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza, denouncing the government’s poor handling of the maritime disaster.

Riot police used water cannons and pepper spray to break up the crowd, arresting dozens of protesters on Sunday, reports the Associated Press. More than 70 police buses were used to barricade streets leading to the Blue house.


Featured image courtesy of Reuters

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