Who Is to Blame for Sewol Tragedy?

Photo by AP

The Sewol tragedy is caused by the South Korea Government and Coast Guard’s inability to handle the rescue operation, failing to rescue lives of people that could have been saved, was one of the key points voiced during the first general meeting of the special parliamentary committee appointed to investigate the accident, local media report.

The committee is membered by lawmakers who have been inspecting the tragedy since June 2, focusing on the role of Security Ministry, the Navy, Central Disaster Relief HQ etc.

The findings indicate that the governmental bodies failed to do their job due to lack of mutual coordination and unpreparedness to handle a disaster of such scale.

Among those being questioned by the committee was head of the Coast Guard, Kim Suk-Kyoon, who was asked how come the Coast Guard crews failed to save a single person from the sinking vessel and why didn’t they contact passengers to tell them to abandon ship.

The family members of the victims feel disappointed as the committee hasn’t met their expectations with respect to the investigation.

The Gwangju District Court is conducting an investigation of its own, as the court representatives inspected a similar vessel to Sewol, owned by the same company, so as to determine its condition.

The group arrived at the port of Incheon, South Korea, June 30, 2014, writes Xinhua. The investigation is taking place withing the framework of court proceedings launched against Sewol crew.

The crew members refused to take responsibility for the lost lives before the court, explaining that it was up to the Coast Guard to save over 400 passengers in distress, predominantly children.

Even though the highest blame is being put on the captain of the vessel, who together with his crew fled the scene, leaving passengers behind and Kim Han-sik, 73, CEO of Chonghaejin Marin, operator of the ill-fated Sewol ferry, who overloaded the ferry that caused the sinking, the public is pressuring the government to shoulder their part of responsibility.

World Maritime News Staff, July 3, 2014; Image: AP

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