‘Sewol’ wreck to be loaded to vessel
SEOUL: South Korean efforts to bring a sunken, 6,800-tonne ferry back to land cleared an obstacle yesterday after divers cut off a vehicle ramp that had been dangling from the ship and hindering efforts to raise it.
Removing the ramp allowed workers to raise the ferry to a height where it can be loaded onto a semi-submersible transport vessel to be sent to a port.
More than 300 people — most of whom were students on a high school trip — died when the Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, touching off an outpouring of national grief and soul-searching about long-ignored public safety and regulatory failures.
Public outrage over what was seen as a botched rescue job by the government contributed to the recent ouster of Park Geunhye as president.
Salvage crews raised the Sewol until its upper side was about 13m above the water’s surface so that they could load it onto the transport vessel about 3km away.
Workers plan to complete loading the ferry by midnight yesterday.
Workers on two barges began the salvaging operation on Wednesday night, rolling up 66 cables connected to a frame of metal beams divers spent months placing beneath the ferry.
The bodies of 295 passengers were recovered after the sinking, but nine are still missing.
Relatives, some of whom were watching from two fishing boats just outside the operation area, hope those remains will be found inside the ferry.
Some cried as they watched the emerging wreckage with telescopes.
Once the Sewol is loaded onto the transport vessel, it will take about two weeks for it to reach a port 90km away in the city of Mokpo.
Workers will then begin clearing mud and search for the remains of missing victims.
An investigation committee will also search for clues that could further explain the cause of the sinking, which has been blamed on overloaded cargo, improper storage and other negligence.
Workers salvaging the wreck of the ‘Sewol’ ferry, off the coast of South Korea’s southern island of Jindo yesterday.